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The Defense of The Qur'an Against The Bible Borrowing Theory Print E-mail
Written by mquran.org   
Monday, 20 November 2006

The Qur'ân is made up of 114 Surahs: only 27 of them were revealed in Madinah while the remaining 87 were revealed in Makkah or some other nearby locations. It is to be reminded that the Jews were in Madinah and the Christians were in Najran and Yemen. There was no seat of Christianity in Mecca, in al-Hijaz nor in Madinah as stated by Bell:

...in spite of traditions to the effect that the picture of Jesus was found on one of the pillars of Ka'aba, there is no good evidence of any seats of Christianity in the Hijaz or in the near neighbourhood of Makkah or even of Madina.[1]

Dr. Nabîh Aqel, a Professor of Arabic and Islamic History, University of Damascus, states in his book Tarîkh al-cArab al-Qadîm:

The big difference between Christianity and Judaism is that Christianity unlike Judaism didn't have any bases in Hijaz , Christianity was an external source of enlightenment echoed in Hijaz either by missionary activities form Ethiopia, Syria and Iraq or from Alheerah's Christian centres; dair Hind al-Kubra [the order of Hind al-Kubra] - Um Amro al-Mundhir [the order of Um Amro] - Dair Hind al-Sugra [the order of Hind al-Sugra]) or from some of the scattered churches in Bahrain, al-Yamamah and Yemen.[2]

Ibn Ishâq narrated also in al-Sîrah al-Nabawiyyah, speaking about four people from Quraysh (Mecca) who were among the generation that preceded the Prophet Muhammad(P) and who had abandoned their people's faith (paganism) and went in search for their Haneefite roots.

These four men were Waraqah bin Nawfal, cAbdullâh bin Jahsh, cUthmân bin al-Huarith and Zaid bin Amro who said to each other "you know that your people had deviated from the religion of your father Abraham" and decided to search for their Haneefite roots and they "scattered into different countries seeking the Haneefite religion, the religion of Abraham". Ibn Ishâq said that Waraqah bin Nawfal had converted to Christianity as a result of his search. [3]

The migration of these four men out of Mecca shows that the city was completely a pagan society for if there was any significant Christian or Jewish presence in Mecca, it wouldn't be necessary for these men to travel in search for it.

Yet another piece of evidence is that during the period of Christian influence and power in Yemen, from Najran to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), history narrates to us the famous attempt of a great Christian army to conquer Mecca.  This army from Yemen was supported by elephants and was lead by Abraha, the Abyssinian.  The doomed invasion occurred in the same year that the Prophet Muhammad(P) was born ,and later came to be known amongst the Arabs as the Year of the Elephant.  The army's aim was to vanquish Mecca, destroy the Ka'aba (the holy shrine built by Abraham(P) and his son Ismâcîl(P)) and then to convert the pagan Arabs to Christianity.  Once this was accomplished, they could force them to make pilgrimage to the great church named al-Qulais that Abraha had built in Yemen for this purpose.

Ibn Ishâq in al-Sîrah al-Nabawiyyah under the title The Story of the Elephant said:

Then Abraha built the "Qulais" in San'a, it was a church that people never saw its like in their time, then he wrote to the Abyssinian king; "I built for you O king, a church that no king had before you, and I'll not stop until I make the Hajj - that the Arabs perform to Ka'aba - shifted to it..."[4]

Dr Helmi Mahroos Ismâcîl in his book al-Sahrq al-'Arabi al-Qadîm writes:

Abraha worked hard on spreading Christianity among the Yemens, he built many churches there the most important of it all was the "Qulais" in Sana'a which the Abyssinian took as their capital in Yemen. Abraha tried to make the Arabs to perform Hajj to it.[5]

This Christian attempt lead by Abraha to destroy the Ka'bah corroborates that Mecca and al-Hijaz, in general, had no Christian or Jewish influence whatsoever even until the time the Prophet Muhammad(P) was born. Abraha had failed in his attempt to destroy the Ka'bah and this was a subject of a Qur'ânic Chapter as a Sign from God (Surat al-Fîl) :

Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant? Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray? And He sent against them flights of Birds Striking them with stones of baked clay. Then did He make them like an empty field of stalks and straw (of which the corn) has been eaten up. [Qur'ân: 105]

Historians could not explain how this great army of Abraha didn't reach its goals in conquering the weak- and almost surrendered city of Mecca!!

The following provides an excerpt from a Yemenite archaeological site that mentions, in part, this incident. Walter W. Muller, a specialized researcher in ancient Arabian history, under the subject Outline of the History of Ancient Southern Arabia, says:

Muller says: "Southern Arabia became an Abyssinian dominion, first under the local Christian vassal simyafa then under the former Abyssinian General Abreha (Abraha). In 542 .... An inscription dated 547, reporting of a campaign against the rebellious Maadd in Central Arabia (Ry 506). States that Abreha had already styled himself king. The most recently dated inscription of the Himyarite era (CIH 325) is from A.D. 554. It virtually marks the end of the well-documented ancient Southern Arabian epoch and heralds the decline of the Sabeo-Himyarite empire..... Towards the end of his reign, Abreha launched yet another military campaign against the North which has been preserved in the memory of the Arabs because of the elephants accompanying it. Abreha failed to take Mecca as he had intended and the operation had to be abandoned."

Without giving any reason why Abraha had failed in capturing Mecca even though it had surrendered!

Bernard Lewis in his book The Middle East: 2000 Years Of History From The Rise Of Christianity To The Present Day, writes:

Newly converted, the Ethiopians were fervent in their Christianity and responded eagerly to Byzantine embassies. Unfortunately for the Ethiopians, they were not able to complete the task assigned to them. They succeeded initially in crushing and destroying the last independent state in southern Arabia, and opening the country to Christian and other external influences, but they were not strong enough to maintain it. They had even tried to advance northwards from the Yemen, and in 507 CE had attacked Mecca, a Yemenite trading post on the caravan route to the north. The Ethiopians failed and were defeated, and a little later the Persians came to the Yemen in their place.[6]

For further information on the story of this Christian campaign against Mecca a reference is made in al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah. Below is a pre-Islamic poem from the same source that preserved the event by a person who had witnessed it. The poet Nufail bin Habeeb was there when the event took place and met with the fleeing soldiers of Abraha's army who asked him the directions to Yemen:

The poem can be roughly translated as follows:

Greetings Rudainah (A female name) we have been pleased with an early morning view. We had received - a seeker of fire - from your side (the word Qabis is used for a person who seeks fire or wood to be used as a source of light at night) but he could not find anything here. O Rudainah! if you have seen what we have seen near al-Muhasab (a location between Mecca and Mina) you would excuse me and not be saddened with what happened in the past between us. I thanked God when I saw the birds and I was afraid of stones that was thrown on us. And they (Abraha's men) were asking about me (to show them the way) as if I was owing them some previous debts.[7]

Bernard Lewis also gave a brief summary on how al-Hijaz looked before the advent of Islam saying the weakness that hit the empires of the north and the south lead to the state that later came to be known to Arabs as al-Jahiliyyah (the days of ignorance).

The militant Christian monarchy which had emerged in Ethiopia developed a natural interest in the events on the other side of the Red Sea [Yemen]. Persians were, of course, always concerned to counter Roman or Christian - for them, the two were much the same - influence.

By this time even these remote outposts of Mediterranean civilization were influenced by the general economic decline of the ancient world.... At least part of the reason for this decline in Arabia must be sought in the loss of interest by both rival imperial powers. During the long period from 384 to 502 CE when Rome and Persia were at peace, neither was interested in Arabia or in the long, expensive and hazardous trade routes that passed through its deserts and oases. Trade routes were diverted elsewhere, subsidies ceased, caravan traffic came to an end, and towns were abandoned. Even settlers in the oases either migrated elsewhere or reverted to nomadism. The drying-up of trade and the reversion to nomadism lowered the standard of living and of culture generally, and left Arabia far more isolated from the civilized world than it had been for a long time. Even the more advanced southern part of Arabia also suffered, and many southern nomadic tribes migrated to the north in hope of better pasturage. Nomadism had always been an important element in Arabian society. It now became predominant. This is the period to which Muslims give the name Jahiliyya, the Age of Ignorance, meaning by that of course to contrast it with the Age of Light, Islam. It was a dark age not only in contrast with what followed, but also with what went before. And the advent of Islam in this, sense may be seen as a restoration and is indeed presented as such in the Qur'ân - as a restoration of the religion of Abraham.
[8]

Although the above excerpt paints a very dark image of how the situation was in Arabia before Islam, it is not totally true. The great amount of cultural heritage left by the Arabs of al-Hijaz represented, for example, by their literature shows that the term al-Jahiliyyah is not descriptive and was mainly used to mean the decline in the social/ethical standards, but nothing else. 

Furthermore; the failure of the Christian Abyssinian army of Abraha to capture Mecca made the pagan Arabs glorify the city even more. Mecca was mainly a pagan society that worshipped stones and trees, yet still believed in a Supreme God.  As the Qur'ân makes clear, they believed that their false gods and idols were a means of getting nearer to God:  

Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than Allah (say): "We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah." Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful. [Qur'ân: 39:3]

The historical evidence plus the internal evidence of the Qur'ân proves beyond any doubt that there was no Christian nor Jewish influence in al-Hijaz, in general, and in Mecca, in particular. So how was Muhammad(P) borrowing from the Bible when the non-existence of any Arabic Bible or Arabic apocryphal sources has been proven?

Again the Qur'ân denies that someone was teaching the Prophet(P) and at the same time points to the fact that the language is foreign.

We know indeed that they say "It is a man that teaches him." The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notable foreign while this is Arabic pure and clear. Those who believe not in the Signs of Allah Allah will not guide them and theirs will be a grievous Penalty. [Qur'ân 16:103-104]

Had someone been teaching Prophet Muhammad(P), his family and close friends would have eventually known.  However, far from being skeptical about his claims to prophethood, these people gave their wealth and lives for Islam.

In Sûrah Fussilat, the Qur'ân explains the reason why the revelation is in Arabic. This is to make sure that the people who were experiencing it could not make excuses.

Had We sent this as a Qur'ân (in a language) other than Arabic they would have said: "Why are not its verses explained in detail? What! (a Book) not in Arabic and (a Messenger) an Arab?" Say: "It is a guide and a healing to those who believe; and for those who believe not there is a deafness in their ears and it is blindness in their (eyes); they are (as it were) being called from a place far distant!" [Qur'ân 41:44]

Now with the absence of Jewish and Christian sources in Mecca, the question remains: who was teaching Muhammad(P) the stories of the old Prophets and Nations which were all revealed in Mecca as the following table shows:

 

Adam(P)

| 7: 11~25 Mecca | 15: 26~44 Mecca | 17: 61~ 65 Mecca | 18: 50 Mecca |
|20: 115~126 Mecca | 38: 67~88 Mecca

Enoch(P)

|19:56~57 Mecca |

Nûh(P)

| Surat Noah ( the complete chapter) Mecca | 7: 59~64 Mecca | 10: 71~73 Mecca | 11: 25~49 Mecca | 21:76~77 Mecca | 23: 23~30 Mecca | 26: 105~122 Mecca | 29: 14~15 Mecca | 37: 76~82 Mecca | 54: 9~17 Mecca | 4:163~165 Madina | 6: 83~87 Mecca | 9:70 Madina | 14: 9 Mecca | 17:3 -17:7 Mecca |
38:12~14 Mecca | 40:5~6 Mecca | 42:12 Mecca | 50:12~14 Mecca | 51:46 Mecca | 53:52 Mecca | 57:26 Madina | 66:10 Madina |

Hûd(P)

|11:50~60 Mecca | 7:6~27 Mecca | 23:31~41 Mecca | 26:123~140 Mecca | 41:15~16 Mecca.| 46:21~25 Mecca | 51:41~42 Mecca | 53:50~55 Mecca | 54:18~22 Mecca | 69:6~8 Mecca | 89:6~14 Mecca |

Saleh(P)

| 7:73~79 Mecca | 11:61~68 Mecca | 15:80~84 Mecca | 17:59 Mecca | 26:141~159 Mecca | 27:45~53 Mecca | 41:17~18 Mecca | 54:23~32 Mecca |
91:15 Mecca |

Ibrahîm(P)

|14: 35~40 Mecca | 6:74~83 Mecca | 21:51~70 Mecca | 26:69~83 Mecca | 29:16~27 Mecca | 19:41~48 Mecca | 37:83~98 Mecca | 2:124~141 - 2:258 Madina | 22:26~27 Madina | 16:120~123 Mecca | 53:37 Mecca |

Ishmâ'îl(P)

| 14:37 Mecca | 2:127~129 Madina | 37:99~113 Mecca |

Ishâq(P)

|37:112~113 Mecca | 11:69~73 Mecca | 15:51~56 Mecca | 51:24~30 Mecca | 19:49 Mecca |

Lût(P)

| 7:80~84 Mecca | 11:69~83 Mecca | 15:51~77 Mecca | 26:160~175 Mecca | 27:54~58 Mecca | 29:28~35 Mecca | 37:133~138 Mecca | 51:31~37 Mecca | 54:33~40 Mecca |

Shuaib(P)

| 7:85~93 Mecca | 11:84~95 Mecca | 15:78~79 Mecca | 26:176~191 Mecca |

Yûsuf(P)
Joseph

Surat Yousuf [ The complete chapter] Mecca

Ayoub(P)
Job

| 6:84 Mecca | 4:163 Madina | [21:83~84] Mecca | 38:41~44 Mecca |

Yûnus(P)
Jonah

| Surat Yonus [10:98] Mecca | 21:87~88 Mecca | 37:139~148 Mecca | |68:48~50 Mecca |

Moses(P)

| 19:51~53 Mecca | 28:1~44 - 28:76~83 Mecca | 20:9~100 Mecca | 27:7~14 Mecca | 17:101~104 Mecca | 7:103~155 - 7:159~174 Mecca | 43:46~56 Mecca | 33:69 Mecca | 26:10~68 Mecca | 79:15~25 Mecca | 41:45 Mecca |
| 10:75~93 Mecca | 40:23~54 Mecca | 2:49~103 Madina | 18:60~82 Mecca |

Jesus(P)

|3:33~62 Madina | 5:72~77 - 5:110~120 Madina | 19:16~40 Mecca |
| 21:90~91 Mecca | 4:156~159 Madina | 61:14 Madina | 57:27 Madina |
 

 

Arranged according to Qisas al-Anbya - Stories of the Prophets - by Imam Ibn Kathîr [10]

The only answer to the question of who was teaching Muhammad(P) the Qur'ân can be found in these verses [53:2-5]

Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him. He was taught by one mighty in Power. [Qur'ân 53:2-5]

some people attribute to Muhammad(P) an encyclopedic knowledge, indirectly saying that he knew all the sources - Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Hanif and ancient Arab beliefs - you name it - before he could compile the Qur'ân.  This ignores the simplest facts which the disbelievers from among his own people acknowledged 1400 years ago- that Muhammad(P) was an illiterate man. The following verse, for example, was revealed in Mecca during the early stages of the Prophet's call: 

And thou wast not (able) to recite a Book before this (Book came) nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand: in that case indeed would the talkers of vanities have doubted. Nay here are Signs self-evident in the hearts of those endowed with knowledge: and none but the unjust reject Our Signs [Qur'ân 29:48~49]

The Qur'ân had answered this accusation 1400 years ago; but all through the past thousand years were some people able to provide any further evidence for their claims?

It should be kept in mind that the Qur'ân was publicly memorized and recited by all Muslims, both during and after the life of Muhammad(P).  If it was not clearly and widely known in Mecca that Muhammad(P) was illiterate, the verses which claimed that he was certainly would have caused doubts amongst the Muslims.  However, not only did the Prophet's(P) followers continue to grow - in spite of great persecution - but there is also no record of the pagan Arabs in Mecca accusing Muhammad(P) of not being illiterate.  They instead accused him of having a tutor or of being possessed, as previous verses have shown, since it was common knowledge that he was illiterate. 


References

[1] Richard Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, 1925; 1968 (Reprinted), The Gunning Lectures Edinburgh University, London: Frank Cass and Company Limited, p.42.

[2] Nabîh Aqel, Tarîkh al-cArab al-Qadîm, 1983 (Third Edition), Dâr al-Fikr, Beirut, p. 305.

[3] Ibn Hishâm, al-Sîrah al-Nabawiyyah, Mousasat cUlûm al-Qur'ân, Beirut, p.222.

[4] Ibn Hishâm, Op.Cit, p.43.

[5] Helmi Mahroos Ismael, al-Sahrq al-cArabî al-Qadîm, 1997, Mousasat Shabab al-Jami'ah, Egypt, p. 210 - 211.

[6] Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: 2000 Years Of History From The Rise Of Christianity To The Present Day, 1996 (Second Impression), Phoenix: London, p.45

[7] Ibn Hishâm, Op.Cit, p.53.

[8] Bernard Lewis, Op.Cit, p.42

[9] Nabîh Aqel, Op.Cit, p.271

[10] Ibn Kathîr, Qisas al-Anbiya, 1985 (Third Edition), Dar al-Jeel, Beruit.

Khâlid al-Khazrajî, Mustafa Ahmed, Elias Karîm, Qasim Iqbal, cAbd ar-Rahmân Robert Squires, M S M Saifullah & Muhammad Ghoniem

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Last Updated ( Monday, 20 November 2006 )
 
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