Examples Of Misinterpretation Of The Qur'an
The Misconception That Scientic Information In the Qur'an Originates from Ancient Civilizations
We must also mention another irrational claim some people make about the Qur'an. In the previous section we saw that the scientific information in the Qur'an were made ahead of the knowledge available at that time. Those who oppose this obvious fact argue, in an effort to disguise this miracle from others, that the Prophet Muhammad gathered this information after being inspired by the advanced civilizations of the time.
According to this claim, our Prophet took information about such concepts as astronomy, embryology and medicine from ancient civilizations. For example, they allege that he found the data on astronomy from the Sumerians and that on medicine from papyrus collections belonging to the ancient Egyptians and recorded them in the Qur'an.
The invalidity of this assumption is visible from several standpoints. It is in particular known that the Prophet Muhammad never carried out such research during his life. No one has so far declared otherwise. Furthermore, it is well known that the Prophet had no knowledge of these civilizations' languages, either.
Again, anyone who wished to perform such research in that period would have had to go through a lot of difficulties. Obviously, 7th century Arabia did not contain any of our contemporary research tools such as large libraries, the press, bookstores or the Internet. Even with today's technology it is not an easy task to research ancient Egyptian documents on embryology. The establishment of this civilization dates back to some 5,000 years ago. The number of written sources that have survived to our time is very limited, and furthermore not all of them have been translated. In addition, it is imperative to have a detailed knowledge of history in order to evaluate and fully understand these translations. In short, such a study will be exceedingly difficult, even under the easier conditions of our time.
Moreover, there is no reason to think that the information we have inherited from ancient civilizations is totally correct and sound. Incorrect information, superstitions and twisted beliefs were common in those ancient societies. If, as the unwise claim, the scientific contents of the Qur'an had been gathered from the cultures of ancient civilizations, then they should have contained the same errors or inconsistencies. However, the Qur'an is free of all such things. Modern science has proven that all scientific Quranic verses are 100 percent accurate. This reality is further emphasized in the verse, "Will they not ponder the Qur'an? If it had been from other than God, they would have found many inconsistencies in it." (Surat an-Nisa': 82)
This is why the argument that the Prophet Muhammad gathered the contents of the scientific Qur'anic verses from the resources of other civilizations is totally groundless, just like all the other claims. The existence of people who do make such claims and the reply that should be given to them is stated in the verse:
Those who are disbelievers say, 'This is nothing but a lie he has invented and other people have helped him to do it. They have brought injustice and falsehood.' They say, 'It is myths of previous peoples which he has had transcribed and which are read out to him in the morning and the evening.' Say: 'The One Who sent it down is He Who knows all hidden secrets in the heavens and earth. He is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.' (Surat al-Furqan: 4-6)
The Delusion That the Qur'an was Revealed to the Arabs Alone
These defiant people promote yet another means by which they try to separate and distance others from the Qur'an. That is the claim that the Qur'an was revealed to the Arabs alone, and that they are the only people who have to follow it. Anyone who has read the Qur'an even once will realize how groundless and ridiculous this suggestion is.
Many Qur'anic verses emphasize the fact that the Prophet Muhammad was a messenger sent for all mankind and that everyone is responsible of obeying the commandments of the Qur'an until the Day of Judgment. We will quote from a few such verses here, and they should be more than enough to make our point:
We only sent you for the whole of mankind, bringing good news and giving warning. But most of mankind do not know it. (Surah Saba': 28)
Say: 'Mankind! I am the Messenger of God to you all, of Him to whom the kingdom of the heavens and earth belongs.' (Surat al-A'raf : 158)
Those who protest, trying to confuse uninformed people and cause disturbances, will base their claim on the Qur'anic verse stated below:
We have not sent any Messenger except with the language of his people so he can make things clear to them. God misguides anyone He wills and guides anyone He wills. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surah Ibrahim: 4)
The verse is crystal clear. The messenger will speak the same language as the nation he has been sent to. This has always been the case throughout history. Only such people can report the revelation of God to the public around them completely and perfectly. This is why the book revealed to the messenger will be of the same language as that of the messenger himself and his nation. There could be nothing more natural.
However, objectors argue this point in order to refrain from religion, no matter what. Their perverse mentality has been clarified in the Qur'an:
If We had made it a Qur'an in a foreign tongue they would have said, 'Why have its Signs not been made plain? What! A foreign language for an Arab?' Say: 'It is guidance and healing for people who have faith. Those who do not have faith have heaviness in their ears and for them it is blindness. Such people are being called from a very distant place.' (Surah Fussilat: 44)
It is imperative to form such unity between the prophet, his nation and the book he presents in order to convey the divine revelation to mankind completely and perfectly, as well as to prevent the occurrence of any communication problems that would hinder the establishment of sound foundations for religion. Evidently, this does not suggest anything to the effect that other nations will not be held accountable for the Qur'an. The meaning and the commandments of the Qur'an can easily be interpreted and explained in any language. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what has taken place. This condition is not in anyway a hindrance to learning or applying religion.
The Misinterpretation of the Term "We," Which God Uses in Reference to Himself
God uses the term "We" to refer to Himself in many parts of the Qur'an. Some examples of these verses can be given:
We gave Moses the Book and sent a succession of Messengers after him. We gave Jesus, son of Maryam, the Clear Signs and reinforced him with the Purest Spirit. Why then, whenever a Messenger came to you with something your lower selves did not desire, did you grow arrogant, and deny some of them and murder others?! (Surat al-Baqarah: 87)
Who would deliberately renounce the religion of Abraham except someone who reveals himself to be a fool? We chose him in the world and in the hereafter he will be one of the true believers. (Surat al-Baqarah: 130)
The unwise assume the term "We," which God uses in reference to Himself in the Qur'an to be a plural form, and suggest that the use of this word contradicts the fact that there is no other deity but God. They believe they have made a very significant discovery. In fact, the explanation of this misinterpretation, resulting from a very superficial and ignorant approach, is quite simple. In Arabic, the pronoun "We" is not only used as a plural form, but is also applied to accentuate greatness, grandeur, majesty, glory, high rank and position in the singular as well. The term "We" used for God is applied in this context.
The mentality with which the term "We" is used in Arabic also applies to the polite use of the plural form of the pronoun "you" to refer to one person in French and some other foreign languages.
The core and most significant message of the Qur'an is that there is no other deity but God, and that He alone must be obeyed. The fact that there is no other deity than God is stressed in various Qur'anic verses, such as:
This is the true account: there is no other deity besides God. God – He is the Almighty, the All-Wise.(Surat Al 'Imran: 62)
... There is no deity except God, the One, the All-Conquering. (Surah Sad: 65)
Know then that there is no deity except God and ask forgiveness for your wrongdoing, and for the men and women who believe. God knows both your activity and your repose. (Surah Muhammad: 19)
It becomes apparent that the term "We" used in reference to God Himself in various parts of the Qur'an is not applied in the plural form but is intended to portray magnificence, respect and holiness.
In fact, one does not necessarily have to be aware of this special use of the term in Arabic to grasp its purpose. Anyone with the least power of reasoning can appreciate the delicacy behind the term. The conditions of those who perceive this as a contradiction or defiance present a vivid picture of the level of their intelligence and understanding and the aptitude they display.
Failing to Understand the Examples Given in the Qur'an
The Qur'an is a book that only careful, thinking and sincere people can truly understand. Those without these qualities, namely people who are unaware and incapable of reasoning and have ulterior motives, can never comprehend the Qur'an nor discover its mysteries and finer points. This is also true of the examples given in the Qur'an which offer guidance and instructions. One Qur'anic verse describes how sceptics are unable to grasp the examples in the Qur'an and, furthermore, how these examples can lead them to become misguided.
God is not ashamed to make an example of a gnat or of an even smaller thing. As for those who have faith, they know it is the truth from their Lord. But as for those who are disbelievers, they say, 'What does God mean by this example?' He misguides many by it and guides many by it. But He only misguides the deviators. (Surat al-Baqarah: 26)
A believer can easily grasp that the example of the gnat mentioned in the verse is a means of proving the superiority of God's power. This tiny insect, only about a centimeter long, is an example of God's perfect and unique creation. It contains systems, mechanisms and a structure far more complex than that of any advanced technological equipment or computers. It has survived down to our own time and has remained unchanged ever since its creation. God gives this miraculous creature as an example in the Qur'an to emphasize the supremacy of His Creation. True believers can deduce from this example that even a single gnat opens the gateway to feeling and understanding the endless knowledge and power of God. However, those unwise sceptical unbelievers, instead of learning to perceive every creature around them with the same appreciative eyes, will still be asking in wonder, "What does God mean by this example?"
Failing to Understand the Repetitions in the Qur'an
The repetitions in the Qur'an are the source of further confusion for the unwise who cannot understand the rationale behind them. In certain parts of the Qur'an some subjects and verses are repeated. Constant reference is made in different Qur'anic anecdotes, examples, and suggestions to the principles of religion, such as the existence and oneness of God, resignation, concession, the importance of praising God, the temporary nature of this world, gratitude and spending one's life on the path of God. There are even instances when a verse is repeated word for word in another place in the Qur'an.
This has many plausible motives. In order to engrave essential subjects in the minds and hearts of people, they are repeated at every opportunity. Furthermore, every aspect of these vital subjects becomes easier to comprehend if they are covered in different examples and anecdotes. One of the well-known repetitions in the Qur'an is the verse "Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?" in Surat ar-Rahman. This verse is mentioned among the 78 verses of this Surah 31 times. This is a very wise repetition that provides the vital atmosphere to put people into a grateful and meditative state rather than remaining indifferent as they consider how the beauties of Heaven listed by God are truly magnificent favors and blessings. The respectful admiration and grandeur present in the heart of the believer strengthens with each reiteration of the verse. In this way, the desired feeling is delivered to the heart of the sincere and conscientious believer in the best possible manner.
Failing to Understand the Style of the Qur'an
(The prayers of the believers, the words of the angels….)
Every Qur'anic verse is an example of the endless Wisdom of God, and so every subject it contains has been explained in the most substantial and perfect style. In some parts a subject is explained in a most thorough and detailed manner whereas, in other parts, it has been made understandable with a short and simple approach. For example, in some Qur'anic verses, the statements or prayers of believers, angels or other third parties are conveyed directly without any prior introduction. True believers can easily grasp the reason why these statements were conveyed in such a manner.
However, this style of the Qur'an is difficult to understand for those with limited powers of contemplation. They assume that since the Qur'an consists of God's words, then the fact that it contains the statements of others is paradoxical. Nevertheless, these words serve as examples and admonitions to true believers. The one who conveys these statements mentioned in the Qur'an is God. Thus, they are all His words.
For instance, the last four verses of Surat al-Fatihah are the prayers of the believers.
You alone we ask for help. Guide us on the Straight Path, the Path of those You have blessed, not of those with anger on them, nor of the misguided. (Surat al-Fatihah: 4-7)
In this way, God has notified the believers of the style they should adopt while praying right from the start. There is no introductory statement at the beginning of this prayer along the lines of "Pray as mentioned below," because the situation is quite obvious. Another such example is the prayer that is mentioned in the last verse of Surat al-Baqarah:
God does not impose on any self any more than it can stand. For it is what it has earned; against it, what it has merited. Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load like the one You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not place on us a load we have not the strength to bear! And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy on us. You are our Master, so help us against the people of the disbelievers. (Surat al-Baqarah: 286)
Anyone who is sensible enough can easily see that God is conveying a sample prayer pattern to true believers through these verses, and will thus pray accordingly. Conversely, the unwise can never see the real nature of such verses and will come to be guided by Satan.
The Subject of Creation in Six Days
It is stated in various parts of the Qur'an that the universe was created in six days. Particular attention is often drawn to one section however, where the number of days in the separate verses mentioning the different stages of creation adds up to 8. Those who are unable to grasp the evident logic behind these verses assume them to conflict with all the other Qur'anic verses, which state the creation to have occurred in six days. These verses are as follows:
Say: 'Do you reject Him Who created the earth in two days, and make others equal to Him? That is the Lord of all the worlds.' He placed firmly embedded mountains on it, towering over it, and blessed it and measured out its nourishment in it, laid out for those who seek it – all in four days. Then He turned to heaven when it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, 'Come willingly or unwillingly.' They both said, 'We come willingly.' In two days He determined them as seven heavens and revealed, in every heaven, its own mandate. We adorned the lowest heaven with lamps and guarded it. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. (Surah Fussilat: 9-12)
If the days mentioned in the above verses are calculated, they add up to 8. Whereas it is stated in verse 3 of Surah Yunus and others that the Earth, the skies and everything in between were created in 6 days. This situation could appear incomprehensible to a superficial reader who refuses to use his mind and logic or to pay close attention. Those who approach the Qur'an to try to discover faults and contradictions frequently cite the above verse.
Yet, if a person concentrates and uses wisdom he can readily see that there is absolutely no paradox at all. If we pay attention to the periods of time stated in the verses we can reach the following calculations:
- It took four days from the time the universe was started until the sustenance had been made ready, or rather the necessary environment for living things was suitable, along with the creation of plants and animals.
- The beginning of this period, namely the shaping of the Earth along with the universe, or in short the creation of the world, took the initial two of these four days. So, these two days are not a separate time frame from those first four days. They are, to be more precise, the first two days of the four days mentioned in the next verse.
- In the 11th and 12th verses state that the sky was formed in 2 days. In conclusion, they add up to 6 days.
In short, the verses explain the separate time frames for each of the events that take place within the six days of creation.
It is imperative to clarify the point that the term "day" mentioned in these verses is not used to refer to a 24 hour-day but instead to indicate the different periods and phases.
The Speculation About the Name "Haman"
Those who keep themselves occupied by looking for inconsistencies in the Qur'an refer to a man named "Haman" who is mentioned in the Qur'anic verses as one of Pharaoh's men.
In the Torah, the name Haman is not used when the life of the Prophet Moses is quoted. On the other hand, it is mentioned in the Gospel to refer to a helper of the Babylonian king who lived 1,100 years after the Prophet Moses and persecuted the Jews.
Those who claim that the Prophet Muhammad wrote the Qur'an in the light of the Torah and the Gospel also put forth the sophistry that he copied some of the subjects in the Qur'an wrongly.
The ridiculousness of this claim became obvious 200 years ago when the Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered and the name "Haman" was discovered.
Until then it had not been possible to read any of the writings or tablets written in ancient Egyptian. The ancient Egyptian language and hieroglyphs had been present for many thousands of years. However, with the spread of Christianity and its cultural influences during the second and third centuries AD the ancient Egyptians forgot their religion as well as the language, and the use of hieroglyphs came to a gradual stop. The year 394 AD is the last known time when a hieroglyph was used. Afterwards this language was forgotten, leaving nobody who could read and understand it. Until some 200 years ago.
The ancient Egyptian language was deciphered in 1799 with the discovery of a tablet dated to 196 BC called the "Rosetta Stone". The unique nature of this tablet came from the fact that it was written in three different forms of writing; hieroglyphics, demotic (a simplified form of ancient Egyptian hieratic writing) and Greek. The ancient Egyptian dialect was decoded with the help of the Greek version. A Frenchman named Jean-Françoise Champollion completed the deciphering of the whole tablet. In this way, a forgotten language and the history that it contained came back to life. This discovery made it possible to research ancient Egyptian civilization, their beliefs and social life.
It also made it possible to acquire the vital piece of information we are now discussing. The name "Haman" was in fact mentioned in old Egyptian tablets. It was mentioned on a monument which now stands in the Hof Museum in Vienna, and in which the closeness of Haman to the Pharaoh was emphasized. (Walter Wreszinski, Ägyptische Inschriften aus dem K.K. Hof Museum in Wien, 1906, J. C. Hinrichs' sche Buchhandlung)
The dictionary "The People in the New Kingdom" refers to Haman as "the head of the quarry workers". (Hermanne Ranke, Die Ägyptischen Personennamen, Verzeichnis der Namen, Verlag Von J J Augustin in Glückstadt, Band I, 1935. Band II, 1952)
This discovery brought to light a truly astonishing fact. Haman was, contrary to what those who opposed the Qur'an claimed, really a man who had lived in Egypt during the Prophet Moses' time and furthermore, just as stated in the Qur'an, he was close to the Pharaoh and dealt with construction of sorts.
As a matter of fact, the Qur'anic verse that conveys how the Pharaoh requested Haman to build a tower is in perfect unison with this archaeological finding:
Pharaoh said, 'Council, I do not know of any other god for you apart from me. Haman, kindle a fire for me over the clay and build me a lofty tower so that perhaps I may be able to climb up to Moses' god! I consider him a blatant liar.' (Surat al-Qasas: 38)
In conclusion, the discovery of the name Haman on ancient Egyptian tablets discredited another claim made by those who strive to find inconsistencies in the Qur'anic verses. Furthermore, the undeniable truth that the Qur'an is revealed by God is once again proven without any doubt as the Qur'an miraculously conveyed historical information that could not have been found and deciphered in the Prophet's time.
The Speculation About Noah's Flood
The subject of Noah's flood is one of many that the deniers are unable to rationalize, and so oppose. People who deny that it ever happened argue that it was technically impossible for a worldwide flood to have occurred. They go on to say that since the Qur'an relates such an event, it cannot be the word of God.
Nonetheless, such claims are not valid in the case of the holy Qur'an, given that it is the only holy book revealed by God that has stayed unaltered. Moreover, the mention of the Flood in the Qur'an is handled very differently when compared to the Torah and other cultures.
In the altered Torah, the flood is stated to have been universal and to have covered the whole world. The Qur'an, on the other hand, makes no reference to the flood being universal. In fact, just the opposite is true, as the verses explain that the flood was not worldwide but regional, and that only the nation denying the Prophet Noah was punished.
The Prophet Noah was sent to his own nation only, just as Prophet Hud was sent to the people of 'Ad (Surah Hud: 50), and the Prophet Salih was sent to the Thamud (Surah Hud: 61) and the flood destroyed only his people.
We sent Noah to his people: 'I am a clear warner to you. Worship none but God. I fear for you the punishment of a painful day.' (Surah Hud: 25-26)
Those who were destroyed were those who denied and insisted on opposing the revelations of the Prophet Noah. The Qur'anic verses that deal with that subject leave no room for any argument:
But they denied him so We rescued him and those with him in the Ark. And We drowned the people who denied Our Signs. They were a blind people. (Surat al-A'raf: 64)
So We rescued him and those with him by mercy from Us, and We cut off the last remnant of those who denied Our Signs and were not believers. (Surat al-A'raf : 72)
We can see the Qur'an states that only the people of the Prophet Noah were destroyed, and not the whole world. When the Qur'anic verses are so obvious, to argue that the flood of Noah mentioned in the Qur'an was universal has no other aim than to confuse and trick the uninformed.
The fact that the logical deficiencies and superstitions that exist in the altered, story and myth-filled Torah and the Gospel do not exist in the Qur'an, but that corrected and factual versions do, is yet another piece of evidence that it was sent by God.
It is not possible for the Qur'an to refer to the flood as a universal event for yet another reason; God states that a nation will not perish unless it has been sent a messenger. Destruction will take place if the people in question have been sent a messenger to warn and guide them, but they reject him. This is related in Surat al-Qasas:
Your Lord would never destroy any cities without first sending to the chief of them a Messenger to recite Our Signs to them. We would never destroy any cities unless their inhabitants were wrongdoers. (Surat al-Qasas: 59)
Yet another verse states: "Whoever is guided is only guided to his own good. Whoever is misguided is only misguided to his detriment. No burden-bearer can bear another's burden. We never punish until We have sent a Messenger." (Surat al-Isra': 15)
As can be deduced from the above verses, it is against the laws of God to destroy a nation before sending it a messenger. The Prophet Noah was only sent to his people to remind them. For this reason, God destroyed only the Prophet Noah's people, and not the other nations that had yet to receive messengers.
The other subject of debate regarding the flood is whether the waters rose high enough to cover all the peaks and mountains in the region. The Qur'an maintains that the ship rested on the "Judi" after the flood. The term "Judi" is taken to indicate a particular mountain, but in Arabic it actually means "A high point or place". So we can make out from the Qur'an that the flood did not swallow the whole world and all the mountains, as the altered Torah tells us, but rather covered a particular region.
Moreover, archaeological excavations carried out in the regions thought to have been affected by the flood have revealed that it was not a universal event covering the whole world, but instead a regional catastrophe that covered a wide section of Mesopotamia. (For more information, see Perished Nations by Harun Yahya)