Criticism of the Qur'an

Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the literal word of God as recited to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Critics argue against this belief, and criticize various statements in the Qur'an. [Islam: the Basics. Turner, C. (2006) Routledge, p. 42]

The origins of the Qur'an

Muhammad, according to tradition, recited perfectly what the angel Gabriel revealed to him for his companions to write down and memorize. Muslims hold that the wording of the Qur'anic text available today corresponds exactly to that revealed to Muhammad in the years 610–632. [ John Esposito, "Islam the Straight Path", Extended Edition, p.19-20 ]

Historical authenticity of the Qur'an

John Wansbrough believes that the Qu’ran is a redaction in part of other sacred scriptures, in particular the Judaeo-Christian scriptures. [Wansbrough, John (1977). "Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation"] Wansbrough, John (1978). "The Sectarian Milieu: Content and Composition of Islamic Salvation History".] In their book "", Patricia Crone and Michael Cook challenge the traditional account of how the Qur'an was compiled, writing that "there is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in any form before the last decade of the seventh century."Patricia Crone, Michael Cook, and Gerd R. Puin as quoted in cite news | url=http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/199901/koran | publisher=The Atlantic Monthly | title=What Is the Koran? | author=Toby Lester |date=January 1999] They also question the accuracy of some of the Qur'an's historical accounts. For example, professor Gerd R. Puin's study of ancient Qur'an manuscripts led him to conclude that the Qur'an is a "cocktail of texts", some of which may have been present a hundred years before Muhammad.

Herbert Berg writes that "Despite John Wansbrough's very cautious and careful inclusion of qualifications such as 'conjectural,' and 'tentative and emphatically provisional', his work is condemned by some. Some of the negative reaction is undoubtedly due to its radicalness... Wansbrough's work has been embraced wholeheartedly by few and has been employed in a piecemeal fashion by many. Many praise his insights and methods, if not all of his conclusions." [Herbert Berg (2000), p.83 ] It is generally acknowledged that the work of Crone and Cook was a fresh approach in its reconstruction of early Islamic history, but the theory has been almost universally rejected. [David Waines, Introduction to Islam, Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-521-42929-3, pp 273-274 ] Van Ess has dismissed it stating that "a refutation is perhaps unnecessary since the authors make no effort to prove it in detail...Where they are only giving a new interpretation of well-known facts, this is not decisive. But where the accepted facts are consciously put upside down, their approach is disastrous."van Ess, "The Making Of Islam", "Times Literary Supplement", Sep 8 1978, p. 998] R. B. Sergeant states that " [Crone and Cook's thesis] … is not only bitterly anti-Islamic in tone, but anti-Arabian. Its superficial fancies are so ridiculous that at first one wonders if it is just a ‘leg pull’, pure ’spoof’." [Sergeant, "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society", 1981, p. 210 ] Francis Edwards Peters states that "Few have failed to be convinced that what is in our copy of the Quran is, in fact, what Muhammad taught, and is expressed in his own words" because "The search for variants in the partial versions extant before the Caliph Uthman’s alleged recension in the 640s (what can be called the “sources” behind our text) has not yielded any differences of great significance." [ Peters, F. E. (Aug., 1991) "The Quest of the Historical Muhammad." "International Journal of Middle East Studies", Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 291-315.]

In 2006, legal scholar Liaquat Ali Khan claimed that Crone and Cook later explicitly disavowed their earlier book. [cite web|url=http://www.thedailystar.net/2006/04/28/d60428020635.htm|title=Hagarism: The Story of a Book Written by Infidels for Infidels|accessdate=2006-06-12|author=Liaquat Ali Khan] [cite web|url=http://baltimorechronicle.com/2006/042606AliKhan.shtml|title=Hagarism: The Story of a Book Written by Infidels for Infidels|accessdate=2006-06-09|author=Liaquat Ali Khan] Patricia Crone in an article published in 2006 provided an update on the evolution of her conceptions since the printing of the thesis in 1976. In the article she acknowledges that Muhammad existed as a historical figure and that the Quran represents "utterances" of his that he believed to be revelations. However she states that the Qur'an may not be the complete record of the revelations. She also accepts that oral histories and Muslim historical accounts cannot be totally discounted, but remains skeptical about the traditional account of the Hijrah and the standard view that Muhammad and his tribe were based in Mecca. She describes the difficulty in the handling of the hadith because of their "amorphous nature" and purpose as documentary evidence for deriving religious law rather than as historical narratives. [ [http://www.opendemocracy.net/faith-europe_islam/mohammed_3866.jsp "What do we actually know about Mohammed?", by Patricia Crone] ]

A Christian Arab named Al-Kindi claimed that the narratives in the Qur'an were "all jumbled together and intermingled" and that this was "an evidence that many different hands have been at work therein, and caused discrepancies, adding or cutting out whatever they liked or disliked" [Quoted in A. Rippin, "Muslims: their religious beliefs and practices: Volume 1", London, 1991, p.26] Bell and Watt suggested that the variation in writing style throughout the Qur'an, which sometimes involves the use of rhyming, may have indicated revisions to the text during its compilation. They claimed that there were "abrupt changes in the length of verses; sudden changes of the dramatic situation, with changes of pronoun from singular to plural, from second to third person, and so on" [ R. Bell & W.M. Watt, "An introduction to the Quran, Edinburgh, 1977, p.93] At the same time, however, they noted that " [i] f any great changes by way of addition, suppression or alteration had been made, controversy would almost certainly have arisen; but of that there is little trace." They also note that "Modern study of the Qur'an has not in fact raised any serious question of its authenticity. The style varies, but is almost unmistakable. So clearly does the whole bear the stamp of uniformity that doubts of its genuineness hardly arise." [ Watt, Bell "An Introduction to the Qur'an" (1970) p. 51]

Claim of divine origin

Critics reject the idea that the Qur'an is miraculously perfect and impossible to imitate ( [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/002.qmt.html#002.002 2:2] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/017.qmt.html#017.088 17:88-89] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/029.qmt.html#029.047 29:47] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/028.qmt.html#028.049 28: 49] ). The "Jewish Encyclopedia", for example, writes: "The language of the Koran is held by the Mohammedans to be a peerless model of perfection. An impartial observer, however, finds many peculiarities in it. Especially noteworthy is the fact that a sentence in which something is said concerning Allah is sometimes followed immediately by another in which Allah is the speaker; examples of this are suras xvi. 81, xxvii. 61, xxxi. 9, and xliii. 10. Many peculiarities in the positions of words are due to the necessities of rhyme (lxix. 31, lxxiv. 3), while the use of many rare words and new forms may be traced to the same cause (comp. especially xix. 8, 9, 11, 16)."http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=363&letter=K&search=Koran "Koran"] . From the "Jewish Encyclopedia". Retrieved January 21, 2008.] According to the "Jewish Encyclopedia", "The dependence of Mohammed upon his Jewish teachers or upon what he heard of the Jewish Haggadah and Jewish practises is now generally conceded."

Confusion over speaker of certain verses

Bell and Watt thought that cases where the speaker is swearing an oath by God, such as surahs 75:1-2 and 90:1, seem unlikely to be coming from God. They also thought that Surahs 19:64 and 37:161-166 were spoken by angels, describing their being sent by God down to Earth. [R. Bell & W.M. Watt, "Introduction to the Quran", Edinburgh, 1977, pp.93-95]

Criticism of the science in the Qur'an

Quranic verses cite quran|3|59|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|35|11|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|96|2|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|20|55|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|6|1|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|24|45|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|15|26|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|7|11|style=nosup|expand=no, and cite quran|19|67|style=nosup|expand=no are all related to the origin of mankind. Some critics of Islam and many Muslims state that the Qur'an and modern evolutionary theory are not compatible.cite journal | quotes = | author = Saleem, Shehzad |date= | year = 2000 | month = May | title = The Qur’anic View on Creation | journal = Renaissance | volume = 10 | issue = 5 | pages = | doi = |id = ISSN [http://worldcatlibraries.org/issn/1606-9382 1606-9382] | url = http://www.renaissance.com.pk/maytitl20.htm | format = | accessdate = 2006-10-11 ] [Ahmed K. Sultan Salem [http://www.islamonline.net/English/Science/2006/05/article07.shtml Evolution in the Light of Islam] ] This has led to a contribution by Muslims to the creation vs. evolution debate. [Paulson, Steve [http://www.salon.com/books/int/2007/01/02/numbers/index3.html Seeing the light -- of science] ] Some Muslims have pointed to certain Qur'anic verses (such as cite quran|21|30|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|71|13|end=14|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|29|19|end=20|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|6|133|end=135|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|10|4|style=nosup|expand=no) that they think are in fact compatible with evolutionary science, [ [http://www.tolueislam.com/Bazm/misc/IA_Evolution.htm] ] but others think that only creationism is supported by the Qur'an and the hadith. [ [http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2004/09/Article02.shtml Why Muslims Should Support Intelligent Design] by Mustafa Akyol] [Estes, Yusuf [http://www.islamtomorrow.com/science/ Islam Science Question: Evolution Or Creation? Does ISLAM Have the Answer?] ]

Ahmad Dallal, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, writes that many modern Muslims believe that the Qur'an does make scientific statements, however many classical Muslim commentators and scientists, notably al-Biruni, assigned to the Qur'an a separate and autonomous realm of its own and held that the Qur'an "does not interfere in the business of science nor does it infringe on the realm of science." Ahmad Dallal, "Encyclopedia of the Qur'an", "Quran and science"] These medieval scholars argued for the possibility of multiple scientific explanation of the natural phenomena, and refused to subordinate the Qur'an to an ever-changing science.

atanic verses

Some criticism of the Qur'an has revolved around what are known as the "Satanic Verses". Some early Islamic histories recount that as Muhammad was reciting Sūra Al-Najm (Q.53), as revealed to him by the angel Gabriel, Satan tempted him to utter the following lines after verses 19 and 20 :"Have you thought of Allāt and al-'Uzzā and Manāt the third, the other; These are the exalted Gharaniq, whose intercession is hoped for." The Allāt, al-'Uzzā and Manāt were three goddesses worshiped by the Meccans. These histories then say that these 'Satanic Verses' were repudiated shortly afterward by Muhammad at the behest of Gabriel. ["The Life of Muhammad", Ibn Ishaq, A. Guillaume (translator), 2002, p.166 ISBN 0-19-636033-1] Academic scholars such as William Montgomery Watt and Alfred Guillaume argued for its authenticity based upon the implausibility of Muslims fabricating a story so unflattering to their prophet. Watt says that "the story is so strange that it must be true in essentials."cite book | last=Watt | first=W. Montgomery | title=Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman | pages=61| year=1961 | publisher=Oxford University Press | id=ISBN 0-19-881078-4 ] On the other hand, John Burton rejected the tradition. In an inverted culmination of Watt's approach, Burton argued for its fictitiousness based upon a demonstration of its actual utility to certain elements of the Muslim community – namely, those legal exegetes seeking an "occasion of revelation" for eradicatory modes of abrogation. [John Burton (1970). "Those Are the High-Flying Cranes". "Journal of Semitic Studies 15: 246-264".]

The incident of the Satanic Verses is put forward by some critics as evidence of the Qur'an's origins as a human work of Muhammad. Maxime Rodinson describes this as a conscious attempt to achieve a consensus with pagan Arabs, which was then consciously rejected as incompatible with Muhammad's attempts to answer the criticism of contemporary Arab Jews and Christians. [Maxime Rodinson, "Muhammad" (Tauris Parke, London, 2002) (ISBN 1-86064-827-4) pp. 107-8.] linking it with the moment at which Muhammad felt able to adopt a "hostile attitude" towards the pagan Arabs. [Maxime Rodinson, "Muhammad" (Tauris Parke, London, 2002) (ISBN 1-86064-827-4) p. 113.] Rodinson writes that the story of the Satanic Verses is unlikely to be false because it was "one incident, in fact, which may be reasonably accepted as true because the makers of Muslim tradition would not have invented a story with such damaging implications for the revelation as a whole". [Maxime Rodinson, "Muhammad" (Tauris Parke, London, 2002) (ISBN 1-86064-827-4) p. 106] In a caveat to his acceptance of the incident, William Montgomery Watt, states: "Thus it was not for any worldly motive that Muhammad eventually turned down the offer of the Meccans, but for a genuinely religious reason; not for example, because he could not trust these men nor because any personal ambition would remain unsatisfied, but because acknowledgment of the goddesses would lead to the failure of the cause, of the mission he had been given by God." [W. Montgomery Watt, "Muhammad at Mecca", Oxford, 1953. 'The Growth of Opposition', p.105 ]

Claims of internal inconsistency

The Qur'an has come under criticism for what the critics see as contradictory verses in it. The earliest criticism of the Qur'an by pointing out its alleged inconsistencies seems to have happened when the early commentator Ibn Abbas was asked by an unidentified person about apparent Qur'anic contradictions. According to one report Ibn Abbas refused discussing them, and according to other reports he speaks volubly about them. The range of apparently contradictory passages includes abrogating and abrogated verses, matters as the creation of the universe, the nature of God and eschatological events. Those Muslims who defended the Qur'an against the claims of internal inconsistency desired to confirm its divine origin by vindicating the Qur'anic verse 4:82: "If it [i.e. the Qur'an] had been from someone other than God, they would have found much contradiction in it." This encouragement of Muhammad's enemies to claim inconsistency and contradiction, is argued, was pronounced in a hostile environment during the Qur'an's revelation. [Eerik Dickinson, "Difficult Passages", Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān ]

Intended Audience of the Qur'an

Some verses of the Qur'an are assumed to be directed towards all of Muhammad's followers while other versus are directed more specifically towards Muhammad and his private consorts ( [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/033.qmt.html#033.028 33:28] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/033.qmt.html#033.050 33:50] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/049.qmt.html#049.002 49:2] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/058.qmt.html#058.001 58:1] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/058.qmt.html#058.009 58:9] [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/066.qmt.html#066.003 66:3] ). Critics argue that variances in the intended audience of the Qur'an discount claims of divine origin. [The Truth about Muhammad by Robert Spencer, pages 20 to 24 - In Search of the historic Muhammad]

Other scholars argue that variances in the Qur'an's explicit intended audiences are irrelevant to claims of divine origin - and for example that Muhummad's private consorts receive "specific divine guidance, occasioned by their proximity to the Prophet (Muhummad)" where "Numerous divine reprimands addressed to Muhummad's wives in the Qur'an establish their special responsibility to overcome their human frailties and ensure their individual worthiness" [Women in the Qur'an, traditions, and interpretation by Barbara Freyer, page 85, Mothers of the Believers in the Qur'an] , or argue that the Qur'an must be interpreted on more than one level [Corbin (1993), p.7] (See: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qur%27an#Levels_of_Meaning_.2F_Inward_Aspects_of_the_Qur.E2.80.99an] ).

Morality of the Qur'an

According to some critics, the morality of the Qur’an, like the life story of Muhammad, appears to be a moral regression, by the standards of the moral traditions of Judaism and Christianity it says that it builds upon. The "Catholic Encyclopedia", for example, states that "the ethics of Islam are far inferior to those of Judaism and even more inferior to those of the New Testament" and "that in the ethics of Islam there is a great deal to admire and to approve, is beyond dispute; but of originality or superiority, there is none." [ [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10424a.htm "Mohammed and Mohammedanism"] . From the "Catholic Encyclopedia". Retrieved January 21, 2008.] William Montgomery Watt however finds Muhammad's changes an improvement for his time and place: "In his day and generation Muhammad was a social reformer, indeed a reformer even in the sphere of morals. He created a new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before. By taking what was best in the morality of the nomad and adapting it for settled communities, he established a religious and social framework for the life of many races of men." [ W Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, chapter "ASSESSMENT" section "THE ALLEGED MORAL FAILURES", Op. Cit, p. 332. ]

War and Peace

The Qur’an's teachings on matters of war and peace have become topics of heated discussion in recent years. On the one hand, some critics interpret that certain verses of the Qur’an sanction military action against unbelievers as a whole both during the lifetime of Muhammad and after. [Robert Spencer. "Onward Muslim Soldiers", page 121.] [Syed Kamran Mirza [http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/skm/islamic_terrorism.htm What is Islamic Terrorism and How could it be Defeated?] ] [Sam Harris [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/who-are-the-moderate-musl_b_15841.html Who Are the Moderate Muslims?] ] On the other hand, other scholars argue that such verses of the Qur’an are interpreted out of context, [Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" Page 413. Published by The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement [http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/religionislam/religionislammuhammadali.shtml] ] Sohail H. Hashmi, David Miller, "Boundaries and Justice: diverse ethical perspectives", Princeton University Press, p.197] [Khaleel Muhammad, professor of religious studies at San Diego State University, states, regarding his discussion with the critic Robert Spencer, that "when I am told ... that Jihad only means war, or that I have to accept interpretations of the Qur'an that non-Muslims (with no good intentions or knowledge of Islam) seek to force upon me, I see a certain agendum developing: one that is based on hate, and I refuse to be part of such an intellectual crime." [http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~khaleel/] ] and argue that when the verses are read in context it clearly appears that the Qur’an prohibits aggression, [Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" Page 414 "When shall war cease". Published by "The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement" [http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/religionislam/religionislammuhammadali.shtml] ] [Sadr-u-Din, Maulvi. "Qur'an and War", page 8. Published by The Muslim Book Society, Lahore, Pakistan. [http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/others/sadrdin/quranwar/quranwar.shtml] ] [ [http://www.aaiil.org/uk/newsletters/2002/0302.shtml Article on Jihad] by Dr. G. W. Leitner (founder of The Oriental Institute, UK) published in Asiatic Quarterly Review, 1886. ("jihad, even when explained as a righteous effort of waging war in self defense against the grossest outrage on one's religion, is strictly limited..")] and allows fighting only in self defense. [ [http://www.aaiil.org/text/articles/bash/quraniccommandmentswarjihad.shtml The Qur'anic Commandments Regarding War/Jihad] An English rendering of an Urdu article appearing in Basharat-e-Ahmadiyya Vol. I, p. 228-232, by Dr. Basharat Ahmad; published by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement for the Propagation of Islam] [Ali, Maulana Muhammad; The Religion of Islam (6th Edition), Ch V "Jihad" Pages 411-413. Published by The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement [http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/religionislam/religionislammuhammadali.shtml] ]

Violence against Women

Verse cite quran|4|34|style=nosup|expand=no of the Qur'an as translated by Mohammed Habib Shakir reads:

:Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

The film "Submission", which rose to fame after the murder of its director Theo van Gogh, critiqued this and similar verses of the Qur'an by displaying them painted on the bodies of abused Muslim women. [http://www.opzij.nl/opzij/show?id=23669&framenoid=19755 Script for the movie, Submission] ] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the film's writer, said "it is written in the Koran a woman may be slapped if she is disobedient. This is one of the evils I wish to point out in the film". [ [http://www.dnd.nl/showarticle.php3?newsID=15018 Hirsi Ali on Film over Position of Women in Koran] ] .

Scholars and other defenders of Islam have a variety of responses to these criticisms. (See An-Nisa, 34 for a fuller exegesis on the meaning of the text.) Some Muslims argue that beating is only appropriate if woman has done "an unrighteous, wicked and rebellious act" beyond mere disobedience. [ [http://www.submission.org/women/beating.html Quranic Perspective on Wife beating and Abuse] , by Fatimah Khaldoon, "Submission", 2003, retrieved April 16, 2006] In many modern interpretations of the Qur'an, the actions prescribed in 4:34 are to be taken in sequence, and beating is only to be used as a last resort. [Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his Quranic commentary states that: "In case of family jars four steps are mentioned, to be taken in that order. (1) Perhaps verbal advice or admonition may be sufficient; (2) if not, sex relations may be suspended; (3) if this is not sufficient, some slight physical correction may be administered; but Imam Shafi'i considers this inadvisable, though permissible, and all authorities are unanimous in deprecating any sort of cruelty, even of the nagging kind, as mentioned in the next clause; (4) if all this fails, a family council is recommended in 4:35 below." Abdullah Yusuf Ali, "The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary" (commentary on 4:34), Amana Corporation, Brentwood, MD, 1989. ISBN 0-915957-03-5.] [Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, says that "If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored, and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts. [http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=7061] . [http://memri.de/uebersetzungen_analysen/themen/liberal_voices/ges_beating_22_03_04.pdf] ] [Ibn Kathir writes that in case of rebellious behavior, the husband is asked to urge his wife to mend her ways, then to refuse to share their beds, and as the last resort, husbands are allowed to admonish their wives by beating. Ibn Kathir, “Tafsir of Ibn Kathir”, Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000, 50-53]

Many Islamic scholars and commentators have emphasized that beatings, where permitted, are not to be harsh [Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, says that "It is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts. In no case should he resort to using a stick or any other instrument that might cause pain and injury." [http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=7061] [http://memri.de/uebersetzungen_analysen/themen/liberal_voices/ges_beating_22_03_04.pdf] ] [Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqee records in his Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim that "Ibn `Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to a beating that is not violent. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, a beating that is not severe."] Ahmad Shafaat, " [http://www.islamicperspectives.com/Quran-4-34.htm Tafseer of Surah an-Nisa, Ayah 34] ", Islamic Perspectives. August 10, 2005] or even that they should be "more or less symbolic." [One such authority is the earliest hafiz, Ibn Abbas. [http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/w_abuse_badawi.htm] ] According to Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Ibn Kathir, the consensus of Islamic scholars is that the above verse describes a light beating. ["The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary", Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana Corporation, Brentwood, MD, 1989. ISBN 0-915957-03-5, passage was quoted from commentary on 4:34 ] [Kathir, Ibn, “Tafsir of Ibn Kathir”, Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000, 50-53 ]

Some jurists argue that even when beating is acceptable under the Qur'an, it is still discountenanced. [Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi comments that "Whenever the Prophet (peace be on him) permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with reluctance, and continued to express his distaste for it. And even in cases where it is necessary, the Prophet (peace be on him) directed men not to hit across the face, nor to beat severely nor to use anything that might leave marks on the body." "Towards Understanding the Qur'an" Translation by Zafar I. Ansari from "Tafheem Al-Qur'an" (specifically, commentary on 4:34) by Syed Abul-A'ala Mawdudi, Islamic Foundation, Leicester, England.] [The medieval jurist ash-Shafi'i, founder of one of the main schools of "fiqh", commented on this verse that "hitting is permitted, but not hitting is preferable."] [" [S] ome of the greatest Muslim scholars (e.g., Ash-Shafi'i) are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided: and they justify this opinion by the Prophet's personal feelings with regard to this problem." Muhammad Asad, "The Message of the Qur'an" (his translation of the Qur'an).]

evere punishments

Islam has been criticized for allegedly endorsing cruel and unusual punishments for certain crimes.Fact|date=January 2008 William Montgomery Watt believes that "such penalties may have been suitable for the age in which Muhammad lived. However, as societies have since progressed and become more peaceful and ordered, they are not suitable any longer." [ [http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/articles/2000_watt.htm Interview: William Montgomery Watt] ]

The sentence of amputation of the limbs of thieves by Shari'ah courts has been very controversial. [cite news | last=Olukoya | first=Sam | title=Eyewitness: Nigeria's Sharia amputees |date=2002-12-19 | publisher=BBC | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2587039.stm] Cases of the death penalty being applied for homosexuality or sodomy in Iran have been condemned by human rights groups and others: "Human rights groups have documented numerous cases in which Iran has executed its citizens on charges of sodomy and adultery. [cite news | last=Kim | first=Richard | title=Witnesses to an Execution |date=2005-08-07 | publisher=The Nation | url=http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050815/kim] "

According to John L. Esposito, proof for these crimes is hard to be established.cite book | last=Esposito | first=John L. | title=What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam| publisher=Oxford University Press | pages=151 | year=2002 | id=ISBN 0-19-515713-3]
The explanations given for the severity of punishments includes arguments such as the crimes being "against God and a threat to the moral fabric of the Muslim community". According to Esposito, Muslim reformers have argued that such laws should not be applied in a society that poverty, high unemployment, and lack of education may drive people to commit crimes of theft. Furthermore, they argue that these punishments were adapted to and appropriate for the historical and social contexts in which they originated. The eternal part of the message of the Quran however, they argue is its underlying religious principles and values. Once distilled from specific texts in the light of the socio-historical background, these principles and values should find new expressions in terms of the form of punishments, in modernizing societies. [Wielandt, Rotraud. "Exegesis of the Qurʾān: Early Modern and Contemporary ." Encyclopaedia of the Quran]

Houris

Daniel Ali interprets that the "Houris" or 'Virgins of Paradise' described in the Qur'an ( [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/037.qmt.html#037.048 37:43-49] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/038.qmt.html#038.052 38:52] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/044.qmt.html#044.054 44:54] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/052.qmt.html#052.020 52:20] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/055.qmt.html#055.056 55:56] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/055.qmt.html#055.072 55:72] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/056.qmt.html#056.035 56:35-38] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/078.qmt.html#078.033 78:33] ) fulfill "every conceivable carnal desire". [Out of Islam, by Daniel Ali, Page 30] Max I. Dimont interprets that the Houris described in the Qur'an are specifically dedicated to "male pleasure". [The Indestructible Jews, by Max I. Dimont, page 134] Henry Martyn claims that the concept of the Houris was chosen to satisfy Mohammed's followers. [Controversial Tracts on Christianity and Mohammedanism, by Henry Martyn, page 131]

Alternatively, Annemarie Schimmel says that the Qur'anic description of the Houris should be viewed in the context of love; "every pious man who lives according to God's order will enter Paradise where rivers of milk and honey flow in cool, fragrant gardens and virgin beloveds await home..." [Islam: An Introduction, by Annemarie Schimmel, Page 13, "Muhammad"] She also states that the sensuality pictured in the Qur'an is comparable to that offered in sermons by the Eastern orthodox church; "its description of Paradise, so often attacked by Christian polemists because of its sensuality, the Qur'an is not much more colourful than were the sermons on this topic in the Eastern orthodox church". She also emphasises that "women and children too participate in the paradisal bliss" ( [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/052.qmt.html#052.021 52:21] ).

Under the Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Qur'an by Christoph Luxenberg, the words translating to "Houris" or "Virgins of Paradise" are instead interpreted as "Fruits (grapes)" and "high climbing (wine) bowers... made into first fruits". [The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Qur'an, by Christoph Luxenberg, pages 247-282 - The Huris or Virgins of Paradise] Alternate interpretations of these Qur'anic versus are offered, including the idea that the Houris should be seen as having a specifically spiritual nature rather than a human nature; "these are all very sensual ideas; but there are also others of a different kind... what can be the object of cohabitation in Paradise as there can be no question of its purpose in the world, the preservation of the race. The solution of this difficulty is found by saying that, although heavenly food, women etc.., have the name in common with their earthly equivalents, it is only by way of metaphorical indication and comparison without actual identity... authors have spiritualized the Houris" and "later literature is able to give many more details of their physical beauty... they are so transparent that the marrow of their bones is visible through sev-enty silken garments. If they expectorate into the world, their spittle becomes musk...".

Christians and Jews in the Qur'an

Criticisms

Jane Gerber claims that the Qur'an ascribes negative traits to Jews, such as cowardice, greed, and chicanery. She also alleges that the Qur'an associates Jews with interconfessional strife and rivalry (cite quran|2|113|style=ref), the Jewish belief that they alone are beloved of God (cite quran|5|18|style=ref), and that only they will achieve salvation (cite quran|2|111|style=ref). [Gerber (1986), pp. 78–79 "Anti-Semitism and the Muslim World". In History and Hate: The Dimensions of Anti-Semitism, ed. David Berger. Jewish Publications Society. ISBN 0-8276-0267-7] According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, the Qur'an contains many attacks on Jews and Christians for their refusal to recognize Muhammad as a prophet. [Poliakov, Leon (1997). "Anti-Semitism". "Encyclopedia Judaica" (CD-ROM Edition Version 1.0). Ed. Cecil Roth. Keter Publishing House. ISBN 965-07-0665-8 ] In the Muslim view, the crucifixion of Jesus was an illusion, and thus the Jewish plots against him ended in failure. [Lewis (1999), p. 120] In numerous verses (cite quran|3|63|style=nosup|expand=no; cite quran|3|71|style=nosup|expand=no; cite quran|4|46|style=nosup|expand=no; cite quran|4|160|end=161|style=nosup|expand=no; cite quran|5|41|end=44|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|5|63|end=64|style=nosup|expand=no, cite quran|5|82|style=nosup|expand=no; cite quran|6|92|style=nosup|expand=no) [from Gerber 91] the Qur'an accuses Jews of altering the Scripture. [Gerber 78]

Qur'anic statements which portray Christians and Jews in a negative image ( [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/009.qmt.html#009.030 9:30] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/005.qmt.html#005.072 5:72] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/003.qmt.html#003.085 3:85] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/004.qmt.html#004.150 4:150] , [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/058.qmt.html#058.022 58:22] ) include verse 30 of Al-Tawba which states:

"And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!"

Even though there are some verses stating that Christians and Jews will be rewarded as a result of their belief in God, there are contradicting verses like the verse 85 of Al-i'Imran:

"And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers."

Responses

The main Qur'anic statement that Muslim scholars hold Fact|date=August 2008 portray Christians and Jews in a positive image and is the following verse from the verse 62 of Surah Al-Baqara which states:

"Those who believe, the Jews, Christians and Sabians - any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord. They need not fear, nor shall they grieve"

According to Suat Yildirim, Qur’an gave Jews and Christians a special and honored place. (cite quran|29|46|style=nosup) [http://www.ciid.ca/Articles/Yildirim.pdf http://www.ciid.ca/Articles/Yildirim.pdf] , Suat Yildirim, Professor of Theology at Marmara University, Turkey, (retrieved on 10 July 2007)] . Moreover, he states that Quran mentions that Christians were the "nearest to Muslims in love, because their priests and monks are not proud, and because they listen to and recognize the truth of what the Messenger (Muhammad) has brought (cite quran|5|82|end=83|style=nosup)" . - However, this does not account for Muslim-Hindu or Muslim-Buddhist relations. Karen Armstrong mentions that there are "far more numerous passages in Quran" which speak positively of the Jews and their great prophets, than those which were against the "rebellious Jewish tribes of Medina" (during Muhammad's time) [ Karen Armstrong (1993) "Muhammad - A biography of the Prophet", pp. 209.] .

Regarding the "apes" verses, Muslim scholars disagree on the meanings of these verses. Some believe Jews were actually turned into apes and pigs, while others believe they began to act like animals.cite book|first=Sayyid Abul Ala|last=Maududi|title=The Meaning of the Quran|year=1967] Sayyid Abul Ala believes this punishment was not meant for all Jews, and that they were only meant for the Jewish inhabitants that were sinning at the time.

ee also

*The Syro-Aramaic Reading Of The Koran
*Islamic terrorism
*Islam and slavery
*Apostasy in Islam
*Women in Islam
*Criticism of the Bible
*Creation-evolution controversy
*War against Islam

References

External links

Critical sites

* [http://www.submission.org/ The Truth about Islam/Submission to God alone]
* [http://submission.org/miracle/ The Proofs of the Authenticity and divinity of the Quran]
* [http://submission.org/women/ Women's Rights in Islam, All Misconceptions about Women in Islam]
* [http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/Quran/ The Skeptics Annotated Qur'an]
* [http://www.thequran.com/default.aspx?t=2 TheQuran.com]

Muslim responses to criticism

* [http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/features/islam/islammyths.html Five Common Myths About Islam] - globalexchange.org
* [http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/ USC MSA website]


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