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Objective Quran Study

I'd like to thank our fellow Deist Aamir for his courage and the respect and love of God and of truth that he exhibits by writing the below article. His important in-depth article makes it very clear that the Quran suffers from the same ungodly mistakes and errors as the Bible. It makes it very clear that people who sincerely want to get closer to God need to rely on what only God could have given them - their innate God-given reason! This is Deism!

God Gave Us Reason, Not Religion! Bob Johnson

Founder and Director

World Union of Deists

If the apparently infinite universe not only has a boundary in space but also had a beginning in time, this again is something which our minds cannot conceive. If we postulate the existence of a Creator of so vast a universe, we necessarily presuppose that the Creator is bigger than it. If we assume that this huge and awesome mechanism has a Controller, we necessarily presuppose that the Controller possesses infinite power. The nature of this Creator/Controller is, therefore, bound to be too remote, lofty, and abstract for comprehension by our limited and limiting intellects. "That which we cannot conceive is He.”

In general, mankind has not been capable of far-reaching thought. Study of religious beliefs shows that human beings, with rare exceptions, can only visualize God's immense scheme as an enlarged replica of whatever system they have known in their own petty lives, and can only visualize God's unique nature as similar to their own natures, somewhat superior of course, but subject to essentially the same reactions, emotions, weaknesses, desires, and ambitions. There is an Arabic saying, found in the Hadith and derived ultimately from the Old Testament, that God created man in His own image. It would be closer to the truth to say the opposite, “Men have created God in their own image”.

Throughout the Old Testament, the God who is presented to us is an imperious being, quick to anger, unwilling to relent, and avid for praise and worship. Out of the millions of His creatures, He preferred Abraham who was submissive and therefore made Abraham's descendants His chosen people. Hence it would be right that these people should rule over the whole earth.

In the Qur’an, God is endowed with all the qualities of perfection. He is knowing, strong, hearing, seeing, wise, independent of all needs, and benevolent. These are not, His only qualities, however, as He is also often imperious and wrathful, and sometimes even sly; in verse 30 of Sura 8, He is "the best of the schemers." These attributes are not mutually compatible. If God is self-subsistent and intrinsically perfect, how can He be susceptible to accidents such as anger and desire for revenge? Why should He ever become angry when His strength is absolute and anger is an involuntary mood induced by weakness? Why should He, in His absolute independence, be angry about the ignorance and stupidity of some humans incapable of discerning His existence and mastery of the universe? Why too, when God is "the most merciful of the merciful" (sura 12, verse 92), should He warn people that He will never forgive those who imagine that He has partners (sura 4, verse 116), but will punish them with eternal torment? Despite God's own words "I am not unjust to (My) slaves" (sura 50, verse 29), He throws sinners into Hell for ever, and lest they think that incineration in its fire may end their torment, He states that "every time their skins are consumed, We shall give them other skins instead so that they may (continue to) taste the punishment" (sura 4, verse 56). Only an insatiable anger could induce such cruelty, and anger is a sign of weakness. Can weakness be attributed to Almighty God?

In the Quran there are, on the one hand, numerous verses which state that guidance and error depend entirely on God's decision, and on the other hand, numerous verses which impose specific obligations on men and women together with harsh penalties on those who decide not to observe them. There are also times when the Omnipotent and Omniscient God needs the help of humans. "O who believe, Be Allah's helpers, even as Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, 'Who will be my supporters in God's cause?' The disciples said, 'We will be God's supporters'" (sura 61, os-Saff, verse 14). "And We sent down iron, (because) in it lie great power and benefits for the people, and so that God in the unseen world may know who support Him and His Apostles" (sura 57, ol-Hadid, verse 25).

God, the omnipotent controller of the infinite universe, took offence with Abu Lahab for saying to the Prophet, "Perish you, Mohammad! Did you invite us here for this?" Like a thunderbolt, sura 111 (ol-Masad) came down onto Abu Lahab's head, and his wife was not spared from its blast: "Perish Abu Lahab's hands, and may he (himself) perish! His wealth will not give him security, nor will the gains that he has made. He will roast in a flaming fire. And his wife, the carrier of the firewood sticks, will have a rope of palm fibre on her neck!”

Abu'l-Ashadd's conceit brought down the stinging rebuke which Almighty God gave to him in sura 90 (ol-Balad).

Sura 104 (ol-Homaza) is a similar slap in the face for ol-Wand b. ol-Moghira and Omayya b. Khalaf, who in Mohammad's presence had boasted of their wealth and mocked him with innuendos and winks. Sura 108 (ol-Kauthar) reprimands ol-As b. Wa'el, who after the death of the Prophet's son had insultingly called him heirless.

Ka'b b. ol-Ashrafs journey to Mecca after the battle of Badr particularly angered the Master of the Universe because Ka'b, being a Jew and therefore a possessor of scripture, was expressing sympathy with the defeated polytheists and rating them higher than Mohammad, who was a strict monotheist. Verses 54-57 of sura 4 (on-Nesa) attest the vehemence of God's wrath over this matter.

In sura 59 (ol-Hashar), however, God takes pride in the eradication of the Nadir tribe and describes it as a merited punishment for their persistent adherence to Judaism. Abdollah b. ol-Abbas is reported to have given the name Surat Bani'n-Nadir to this sura.

In the Quran, God not only refutes and denounces persons and groups who obstructed the advance of Mohammad's cause; He also intervenes in His Prophet's problems with women. One problem was the Prophet's love for Zaynab, the daughter of Jahsh and wife of Zayd (Prophet’s adopted son), and the resultant estrangement of Zayd from Zaynab. After the execution of her divorce and completion of her waiting period, God gave her in marriage to His Prophet through the revelation of verse 37 of sura 33 (oJ-Ahzab). In verses 28 and 29 of the same sura, the problem of the demands of the Prophet's wives for higher allowances out of the booty taken from the massacred Banu Qorayza is settled by God's decision that the wives must be content with their present allowances or face divorce. The later problem of his wife Hafsa's complaint about his relations with his concubine Mariya is the subject of the numerous verses in sura 66 (ot-Tahrim) which was discussed in the preceding chapter.

Hafsa's and A'esha's jealousy greatly displeased God, who warned these two women that unless they ceased to vex the Prophet and repented, God and Gabriel and the righteous believers would go to the Prophet's support, and that if the Prophet divorced them, God would give him better wives instead - obedient Moslem women ready to fast and pray, who had migrated from Mecca, and who might be widowed, divorced, or virgin. It has already been mentioned that one Quran-commentary takes "widowed" to mean Pharaoh's wife Asiya and "virgin" to mean Jesus's mother Mary, and states that both will be married to the Prophet in heaven; since the Quran says nothing to this effect, the only significance of the statement is that it illustrates the mentality of the commentator.

Throughout the years 1 A.H./622-11 A.H./632, not only the infinite universe but also the earth's other regions were forgotten or ignored because some Arabs in the Hejaz and Najd had begun to think about the one great God but had sometimes, from fear or laxity, neglected duties such as participation in raids. To punish them, the fire of hell was made hotter, while to reward those who, from faith or hope of booty, had given proof of valour and steadfastness, gardens with rivers flowing beneath were prepared.

When the feelings of God's beloved Apostle were hurt by taunts or sneers, he was consoled by the assurance that "We have given you sufficient (protection) against the mockers" (sura 15, al-Heir, verse 95).

The Creator's most conspicuous and effective intervention in Arab affairs took place in 2 A.H./624 at the battle of Badr and is the subject of the whole of sura 8 (ol-Anfal). A caravan, bearing a large cargo and led by Abu Sofyan, was on its way back from Damascus to Mecca. When the Prophet heard about it, he set forth from Madina with a party of his companions to attack it and seize the valuable goods. Abu Sofyan, having obtained information, requested help from Mecca, and Abu Jahl led out a Qorayshite force which was to guard the caravan. As an additional precaution, Abu Sofyan changed the caravan's route. He succeeded in bringing it safely to Mecca. The Prophet Mohammad and his party did not catch the caravan but ran into Abu Jahl's troops at a place called Badr. Not unnaturally some of the Prophet's men, who had been expecting to get a lot of booty without much trouble, flinched from battle with the large Qorayshite force and advised return to Madina. In verse 7 of sura 8, God reprimanded these men and called on them to fight the unbelievers. Verse 9 states that God had promised to reinforce them with a thousand angels, and verse 17 that not they, but God, had slain the enemies who fell in the battle. One of these fallen enemies was Abu Jahl, on whom the curse was thus fulfilled. Verse 17 goes on to address the Prophet, saying "You (singular) did not throw when you threw, but God threw.” This refers to the Prophet's symbolic gesture of flinging a handful of sand in the direction of the polytheists for the purpose of blinding them, and means that it was God, not the Prophet, who thereby caused their invisibility and defeat of the large enemy force.

This victory over the polytheists gave rise to problems of division of the booty. God allotted one fifth of it to His Apostle and the public treasury of the Moslems, and made provisions for its distribution (sura 8, verse 41).

The next problem was how to deal with the captives. At first God endorsed Omar's advice to behead them all and thereby intimidate adversaries: "It is not for a Prophet to have prisoners until he has spread fear of slaughter in the land" (sura 8, verse 67). A little later, however, God accepted Abu Bakr's calmer advice to ransom them: “O Prophet, say (this) to the prisoners in your hands, 'If God knows of any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than that which will have been taken from you. And He will pardon you'" (verse 70). The whole of sura 8 is devoted to solutions of problems arising from the relations of the Moslems with the polytheists and the Jews.

God's intervention in the crisis which arose when the Ghatafan tribe entered into an alliance with the Qoraysh, and their combined forces laid siege to Madina, is described in verse 9 of sura33 (ol-Ahzab): “O believers, remember God's bounty to you when armies came against you, and We sent against them a wind and armies that you did not see!" Verses 10-13 give more information about this crisis in which God so greatly helped the Moslems.

The Cambridge Tafsir gives the following account of what happened: "God on High sent a wind to uproot their tent pegs, blow their fires out, and smash the stable where they kept their horses, with the result that they all fell on top of each other. And the angels cried out, 'God is great.'” The pious commentator never thought of asking why Almighty God had not sent the wind three weeks earlier. If God had done that, He would have relieved the Moslems of the gruelling task of digging the defensive trench around Madina and would have spared them many days and nights of acute anxiety.

Nor did it occur to this commentator or to any contemporary or later Moslems to wonder why, at the battle of Mount Ohod, God had not sent a reinforcement of angels, as at Badr, or a windstorm, as in the war of the trench, in order to avert the painful defeat and the martyrdom of seventy Moslem fighters, one of whom was the Prophet's intrepid and popular youngest uncle, Hamza b. Abd ol-Mottaleb. If some angels or a tempest had helped at Mount Ohod, the Prophet would have been spared the embarrassment of a military reverse and the experience of being hit in the face by a stone and only rescued from martyrdom himself thanks to the bravery of Ali who shielded him. A broad picture of contemporary social conditions in the Hejaz can be pieced together from the study of various passages in the Qur’an. In addition to commandments and moral precepts, there are mentions of contemporary events and conflicts. Hundreds of verses are devoted to controversy, rebuttal of traducers, arbitration of private disputes, exhortation to fight, censure of draft dodgers, promise of booty and possession of other people's wives and property, and threat of hell-fire for opponents and disobeyers. The thunderbolt of God's wrath is suspended over the heads of righteous and wicked persons alike, ready to destroy a whole town if a few of its inhabitants are disobedient or sinful.

God in the Quran has the typical characteristics of a human being. At times He is happy, at other times irate. He has likes and dislikes, and can be pleased. In short, all the propensities of our weak and unstable human nature, such as love, anger, vengefulness, and even guile, are also experienced by the Supreme Being. Yet if we postulate the existence of a Creator and Controller of the infinite universe, we must rationally believe Him to be exempt from such accidents. We are therefore bound to interpret the Quranic attributions of incongruous qualities to the Creator as expressions of the Prophet Mohammad's own human feelings, and all the more so because the Prophet himself said that he too was human. We know that, like any other man, he took offence, felt grief and mourned the loss of his son, and was so upset by the sight of Hamza's mutilated body at Mount Ohod that he heatedly vowed to mutilate the bodies of thirty Qorayshites.

The foregoing observations prompt the question whether confusion between God and Mohammad is discernible in the Quran. This is the only hypothesis capable of resolving the difficulties presented by a large number of Quranic passages. A study of some of them will perhaps make the problem rather clearer.

All Moslems believe that the Quran is God's word. This premise is based on information frequently given in the text of the Quran, e.g. in verses 3 and 4 of sura 53 (on-Najm), "And he (the Prophet) does not speak at will. It is nothing but revelation being revealed"; and in verse 1of sura 97 (ol-Qadr), "We sent it down on the night of power." Thus the Quran became for Moslems the sole document of the faith, incontrovertible, majestic, and sacrosanct.

The reverence for the Quran was so great that after a hundred years a fierce controversy arose among the religious scholars on the question whether it was created or is, like God Himself, uncreated, i.e. not preceded by non-existence. This controversy went on for centuries. All that need be said here is that the doctrine of the Quran's uncreatedness conflicts with the factual evidence, the criteria of reason, and the basic principles of Islamic theology.

Nevertheless, in the reign of the Abbasid caliph Mo'tasem (218/833-227/842), the leading Sonnite exponent, Ahmad b. Hanbal, believed so strongly in this doctrine that, rather than abjure it, he endured a flogging of so many lashes that he fell unconscious. Presumably he even believed the words "Perish Abu Lahab's hands" to be as eternal as God Himself.

When a community has succumbed to a fever, it cannot be calmed with words and proofs. Yet for all who read the Quran and study its contents, the facts are plain. An immediately striking example is the content of the opening sura (ol-Fateha). It is made up of seven verses called the seven repetitions and is placed first in the Quran because of its great importance in Islamic prayer. A translation is given below:

"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful!

Praise to God, the Lord of the Worlds,

the Compassionate, the Merciful,

the Master of the Judgement Day!

You (alone) we worship and from You (alone) we seek help.

Guide us to the straight path,

the path of those on whom You have bestowed bounty,

not of those with whom You are angry and who have gone astray!”

These words cannot be God's words. From their content it is clear that they are the Prophet Mohammad's words, because they consist of praise to God, homage to God, and supplication for God's help. God himself would not say "Praise to God, the Lord of the Worlds, the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Master of the Judgement Day." This difficulty would not have arisen if the Surat ol-Fateha had been introduced with the word "say" (Arabic qol) in the same way as many suras and verses, for example sura 112, verse 1, "Say 'He is God alone"'; sura 109, verse 1, "Say 'O unbelievers"'; sura 18, verse 110, "Say 'I am only a human like you"'. It is logically untenable, however, that God should say "Guide us to the straight path, the path of those on whom You have bestowed bounty, not of those with whom You are angry and who have gone astray.”

Since the Surat ol-Fateha cannot consist of God's words when its whole content is praise and supplication to God, it must be deemed to consist of the Prophet Mohammad's words and to be a prayer which he composed. For this reason Abdollah b. Mas'ud, who was one of the scribes who wrote down the revelations and knew the Quran by heart and later became a respected transmitter of Hadiths, considered that the Surt ol-Fateha and also suras 113 (ol-Falaq) and 114 (on-Nas), both of which contain the words "I take refuge with the Lord", are not part of the Quran.

Another utterance which, by the nature of its subject, cannot be attributed to the Sustainer of the Universe is sura 111 (ol-Masad), the retort to Abu Lahab. The Prophet had invited some relatives and influential Qorayshites to hear him expound the principles of Islam. When he began to speak, Abu Lahab angrily interrupted him, shouting "Perish you, Mohammad! Did you invite us here for this?" The sura, with its repetition of Abu Lahab's word "Perish", voices the Prophet's indignation at the rudeness of Abu Lahab and the malice of his wife, Omm Jomayyel, who had strewn thorns along the Prophet's route.

The retort as such is not out of proportion. On the other hand, it ill becomes the Sustainer of the Universe to curse an ignorant Arab and call his wife a firewood-carrier.

In some Quranic verses the verb is in the first person, and in others it is in the third person. Evidently God speaks first, and the Prophet Mohammad then speaks on God's behalf. In sura 53 (on-Najm), the first speaker is God, who confirms Mohammad's prophethood with the words "Your comrade is not lost, not astray, and he does not speak at will. It is nothing but revelation being revealed."

However, in verses 19-28 the speaker is evidently Mohammad, who refers to the pagan notion that the idols Lat, Ozza, and Manat were God's daughters and reproachfully asks the Arabs, "Do you have male (children) and does He (God) have female (children)?" These words cannot be words of God, who would not ask Himself whether He has daughters. They clearly express the Prophet's censure of the customs and morals of the Hejazi Arabs, whose pride in having sons and shame in having daughters is the subject of several other Quranic verses, for example verse 40 of sura 17 (ol-Esra): "Has your Lord favoured you with sons and chosen for Himself female (children) from among the angels? Surely you are saying a monstrous thing." This question can only have been asked by the Prophet Mohammad, because if it had been asked by God, the wording would have been "Have I favoured you with sons and chosen for Myself daughters?" Obviously God, for whom the sex of children makes no difference, would not have asked such a question. The short-sighted prejudice against daughters is still widespread, even among civilized nations. The ancient Arabs boasted of having sons, and some of them were so barbarous as to practice female infanticide; but at the same time they absurdly supposed angels to be of the female sex. The Prophet Mohammad himself was not exempt from the traditional Arab desire to have sons. Every time that he married a wife, he hoped that she would bear him a son. When his son Qasem died, he was sorely distressed, and at the same time deeply hurt by ol-As b. Wa'el's taunt about his being without an heir, because in the Arab view only sons were real heirs. He rejoiced when Mariya the Copt gave birth to his son Ebrahim, and wept with grief when the child died. Such was the Mohammad who said to the polytheists, "Has God favoured you with sons?”

The Quran contains many instances of confusion between the two speakers, God and Mohammad, in the same verse. One is the first verse of sura 17 (ol-Esra), which is the only Quranic mention, and for Moslems the sole proof, of the Prophet's night journey; "Exalted is He who carried His servant by night from the Mosque of the Sanctuary to the Furthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, so that We might allow him some of Our signs. He is (all-)hearing, (all-)seeing." The praise of Him who carried His servant from Mecca to Palestine cannot be God's utterance, because God does not praise Himself, and must be Mohammad's thanksgiving to God for this favour. The next part of the sentence, describing the Furthest Mosque "whose precincts We have blessed", is spoken by God, and so too is the following clause "so that We might show him some of Our signs". The closing words "He is (all-)hearing, (all-)seeing" seem most likely to be Mohammad's.

Another striking example of change of subject from the first to the third person is the opening sentence of sura 48 (ol-Fateh): "We have given you a clear victory so that God may forgive your earlier and later sin." The sequence of thought would require the wording to be "so that We may forgive your earlier and later sin.” Among these many passages are some, like the above, which can easily be explained, but also others which present great difficulty. One of these is in sura 33 (ol-Ahzab), verses 21-24. Verse 21 states: "In God's Apostle you (people) have had a good example for those who hope for God and the Last Day and have remembered God often." Surely if God had been the speaker, the sentence ought to have been worded in a way which would give the meaning "Those who seek Me should take My Apostle as their model." In verses 22 and 23, the sincere believers are commended for their steadfastness in the war of the trench, and in verse 24 a qualifying clause is appended: "in order that God may reward the sincere for their sincerity and punish the hypocrites, if He so wishes, or else absolve them. He is forgiving, merciful." Here again the speaker is clearly not God but the Prophet, because God would have spoken in the first person ("in order that We may reward the sincere for their sincerity. . .").

It is related that the Prophet, when preparing the expedition against the Romans (i.e. Byzantine Greeks) in 8 A.H./630, asked why ol-Jadd b. Qays, the chief of a Madinan clan, was not going to join in the fighting that year. In reply, ol-Jadd b. Qays said to the Prophet, "Excuse me from going and save me from temptation! I am very fond of women, and I fear that if I saw the Roman women, I might be unable to resist the temptation." This was the occasion of the revelation of verse 49 of sura 9 (ot-Tawba); "There is one of them who says, Excuse me and do not let me fall into temptation!' Have not they (already) fallen into temptation? Hell encircles unbelievers." Plainly the verse is from Mohammad's tongue, not from God, because ol-Jadd b. Qays had asked Mohammad, not God, for exemption from military service. God supported His Apostle by making hell available for the punishment of persons presuming to make this improper demand, but He did not speak on that occasion.

No other hypothesis can explain certain Quranic passages which attribute excellence in guile and scheming to God. Verses 44 and 45 of sura 68 (ol-Qalam) advise, "Leave to Me those who call these words lies! We shall lure them on, (and) they will not know whence. And I shall give them rein. My guile is sure." In verses 181 and 182 of sura 7 (ol-A'raf), the passage is repeated with the omission of "Leave to me", beginning "And those who call these words lies, We shall lure them on". Verse 30 of sura 8 (ol-Anfal) refers to a conclave of Qoraysh chiefs in their assembly hall (dar on-nadwa) and states: "When the unbelievers scheme against you, to arrest you or kill you or expel you, while they are scheming, God (too) is scheming, and He is the best of the schemers.”

Confusion between God's and Mohammad's words is again apparent in two verses of sura 10 (Yunos). "And if your Lord so wished, all the dwellers on the earth would believe together. Are you going to compel the people to be believers?" (verse 99). "It is only (possible) for a soul to believe with God's permission. And He inflicts vileness on those who are not intelligent" (verse 100). In verse 99 the words are from God and addressed to the Prophet, but in verse 100 the words appear to be Mohammad's, a sort of self-consolation followed by an explanation of the obduracy of the polytheists who would not heed his teaching.

It is self-evident that God, having not wished that certain people should believe, would feel no anger with those people for their unbelief, because anger only arises in a person when action contrary to that person's wish takes place. As already noted, it is obvious from the content that the Prophet (not God) spoke the words of verse 24 of sura 33: "in order that God may reward the sincere for their sincerity and punish the hypocrites, if He so wishes, or else absolve them. He is forgiving, merciful. “

At Mecca before the hejra, God had sent down to Mohammad the command: "Summon (people) to your Lord's path with wisdom and good preaching, and argue with them by (using arguments) that are better! Your Lord knows well who have erred from His path, and He knows well who have been (rightly) guided" (sura 16, on-Nahl, verse 125). A few years later, after Islam's rise to power and Mohammad's triumphal entry into Mecca at the head of an army, God's tone changed and acquired a harsh, peremptory note: "When the sacred months are over, kill the polytheists wherever you find them! Catch them, besiege them, and lie in ambush for them everywhere!" (sura 9, ot-Tawba, verse 5). In view of the limitations of human nature, it is only natural that a person should react in one way to difficulty and in another way to success, and should speak and act accordingly; but in view of the divine omnipotence and omniscience, it is inconceivable that God should experience such reactions. Nevertheless, the assurance that "there is no compulsion in religion" (sura 2, 256), which God sent down in the first year after the hejra, was followed, probably one year later, by the command to "fight in God's cause" (sura 2, 190 and 244) and by the warning that "believers who sit (at home), other than the disabled, are not the equals of those who commit their properties and their lives to the war for God's cause" (sura 4, 95). Thus the believers were required to fight people who had been told a year earlier that they would not be compelled to become Moslems if they did not so wish; and at the same time the believers were told that they were not all equal, those who contributed to the war by giving their money or wielding their swords being superior to those who only professed Islam and followed its rules.

At Mecca before the hejra, God had revealed to His Apostle the moral precept that "The kind action and the unkind action are not equal. Repay (the unkind action) with that which is kinder! Then the person who is at enmity with you will become like a close friend" (sura 41, Fosselat, verse 34). At Madina, God sent contrary instructions to His Apostle: "Do not be weak and call for peace when you are uppermost!" (sura 47, Mohammad, verse 35). Such changes of tone and method are bound to attract attention. Also noteworthy in the Quran are some of the questions which the Controller of the Universe, with its myriads of stars and planets, put to the Arabs of the Hejaz. One example is the question about water in verse 68 of sura 56 (ol-Waqe'a): "Did you bring it down from the clouds, or do We send it down?”

In some passages, the Creator seems to have the same need as any poor mortal for human help. One such passage (already quoted earlier in this chapter) is verse 25 of sura 57 (ol-Hadid): "And We sent down iron, (because) in it lie great power and benefits for the people, and so that God in the unseen world may know who support Him and His Apostles." This appears to mean that only human use of the sword could tell God who were supporting Him and His Apostle. There are more than fifty Quranic verses in which God states that the guidance of humans depends wholly on His will and choice. Three are quoted below;

"Those against whom your Lord's word has taken effect will not believe, even if every sign has come to them. In the end they will see painful punishment." (sura 10, Yunos,verses 96 and 97).

"And if We had so wished, We would have given every soul its guidance. But the word from Me has taken effect. I shall fill hell with genies and humans together." (sura 32, os-Sajda, verse 13).

"So taste (the punishment) for forgetting your encounter on this day! (i.e. with God on the judgement day). We have forgotten you. Taste eternal punishment for what you have been doing!" (sura 32, verse 14).

Reading these verses makes the hair stand. According to what they say, God does not desire to guide many humans aright, and then inflicts eternal and painful punishment on those humans for not being guided aright.

God's lack of desire for the right guidance of all mankind is explicitly affirmed in verse 25 of sura 6 (ol-An'am) and again, with identical wording, in verse 57 of sura 18 (ol-Kahf): "We have put covers on their hearts, in case they might understand it, and a heaviness in their ears. . . . . .” Yes, as already said, more than fifty verses threaten eternal and painful punishment for those whom God chooses not to guide.

The subject cannot be pursued here. A different, but no less astonishing, matter requires attention. This is the presence of abrogating and abrogated verses in the Quran. The Quran-commentators and theologians collected and explained all the cases of abrogation. A previously revealed verse was abrogated by a subsequently revealed verse with a different or contrary meaning. Change of mind after the taking of a decision or making of a plan is a normal and frequent occurrence in the lives of human beings, who cannot at any time know all the relevant facts. The human mind is limited and prone to deception by outward appearances, but is capable of learning from experience and recognizing mistakes. It is therefore fitting and desirable that men and women should revise their past decisions or plans. It is contrary to reason, however, that God, who is omniscient and omnipotent, should revise His commands. This point prompted Mohammad's opponents to scoff that he issued an order one day and cancelled it the next day. Their protests are answered in verse 106 of sura 2 (ol-Baqara): "Whenever We abrogate a verse or order that it be forgotten, We bring a better one or a similar one. Do not you know that God is capable of everything?”

It is precisely because God is capable of everything that He would not reveal a verse and then abrogate (annul) it. Since omniscience and omnipotence are essential attributes of the Creator, He must be able to issue commands which do not need revision. Every thoughtful person who believes in One Almighty God is bound to ask why He should proclaim a command and then revoke it. There is a contradiction in the above-quoted verse. Since God is capable of everything, why did not He reveal the better verse first?

It seems that there were hecklers in those days too, and that they were persistent. A reply was given to them in verses 101 and 102 of sura 16 (on-Nahl): "When We have replaced a verse with (another) verse - and God knows well what He sends down - they say, 'You are a mere fabricator.' But most of them have no knowledge. Say (to them), 'The Holy Ghost brought it down from your Lord, truly (so), in order to confirm the believers."

On the assumption that the Quran is God's word, there ought to be no trace of human intellectual imperfection in anything that God says. Yet in these two verses the incongruity is obvious. Of course God knows what He sends down. For that very reason the replacement of one verse by another made the protesters suspicious. Evidently even the simple, uneducated Hejazi Arabs could understand that Almighty God, being aware of what is best for His servants, would prescribe the best in the first place and would not have changes of mind in the same way as His imperfect creatures. Study and reflection lead to the conclusion that this incongruity can only be explained as the product of an inextricable confusion between God and Mohammad. God had manifested Himself in the depths of Mohammad's mind and made Mohammad His messenger to guide the people. Mohammad was fulfilling the mission while retaining his human characteristics. The verses of the Quran are outpourings from both parts of his personality.

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