Category Archives: FAQS

Angels and the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Question:

Many critics of Islam claim that the way the Angel Gabriel interacted with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not in a way that occurred Biblically. This must mean that the “angel” which approached the Prophet, was not actually an angel but a demon.

Answer:

As always, our initial response to this claim should be that we as Muslims do not accept the Bible as a standard with which to judge the Qur’an. We understand that Christians do this because it is an authority for them, but for us as Muslims, it is not an authority for us and so we do not need to view the Qur’an through Biblical lenses. Perhaps someone might mention the “Ask the People of the Book” verse of the Qur’an, please see the link to it as appended which answers this argument.

As for the claim that no Biblical angel has been violent, Genesis 32 disputes such a notion. We read from the English translation of the Judaica Press, verses 25-31:

And Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Jacob’s hip became dislocated as he wrestled with him. And he (the angel) said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking,” but he (Jacob) said, “I will not let you go unless you have blessed me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” and he said, “Jacob.” And he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have commanding power with [an angel of] God and with men, and you have prevailed.” And Jacob asked and said, “Now tell me your name,” and he said, “Why is it that you ask for my name?” And he blessed him there. And Jacob named the place Peniel, for [he said,] “I saw an angel face to face, and my soul was saved.”

We can establish from this text, that an angel physically wrestled with Jacob and dislocated his hip, thus violence was involved. However, some from the Christian faith argue that Jacob actually wrestled with God, however Hosea 12:4 (NIV) clarifies for us with certainty who Jacob wrestled with:

He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
he wept and begged for his favor.

From the first argument, another common claim is that no one has been afraid of an angel of God previously in the Bible, but this is also not the case. At the end of Mark 16, an angel (or angels if you prefer the other Gospels), in the form of a man greets the women who have come to the empty tomb and they leave with fear, see Mark 16:4-8 (NIV):

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

We know that the man (or men if you read the other Gospels) were angels, as John 20:11-12  (NIV) explicitly says so:

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

It should also be noted that when Moses (peace be upon him) was given the ten commandments and had to ascend Mount Sinai (as recorded in the Old Testament), those with him shook with fear due to the horn which was heard, which indicated they were to ascend the mountain. This is recorded in Exodus 19:16 (NIV):

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning. A cloud covered the mountain, and a very loud horn sounded. All the people among the tents shook with fear.

Another common argument that usually follows is that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) should have known from the outset that Gabriel (Jibreel ‘alayhi as salaam) was an angel of God due to his presence alone. The argument here being that when in close physical proximity to a holy individual, one should feel their holy presence. This is not always the case, notably the disciples did not recognize Jesus (peace be upon him) despite being in there presence, see Luke 24:15-18 (NIV):

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

The same is the case with Mary Magdalene in John 20:11-14 (NIV):

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

It should be noted that she eventually recognized him. Regardless of this, in both examples above and in the example with Jacob, we do not see that they recognized that they were in the presence of angels or of a holy person, therefore the argument that merely being in the presence of angels should indicate who they are is not one from the Biblical tradition. Using these arguments is an indication that a person is not familiar with the Bible and so one should calmly and with sincere intentions, educate them of these things.

and Allah knows best.

The Qur’an on Communication

One of the more fascinating verses of the Qur’an is found in Surah 3, Verse 64:

“Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “O People of the Book! Let us come to common terms…” – translation from The Clear Quran by Dr. Mustafa Khattab.

In this passage, the Qur’an gives us a methodology to employ in da’wah, namely to come to a common agreement, or common terms from which a fruitful relationship can develop between Muslims and non-Muslims. Tafsir Maa’riful Qur’an comments on this passage:

“This verse unfolds an important principle of Tabligh (preaching) and Da’wah (preaching Islam). The principle requires that a person, who desires to carry his call to a group which holds beliefs and ideas different from his own, should follow a particular method. That method is to induce the group to unite only on what they both can agree to…”

This passage effectively harkens back to the very definition of the word “communicate”. To communicate is to literally have something common with other people, to share a common idea, thought or belief. As Prof. Adler would describe it, to communicate is to have a “meeting of the minds”. The Qur’an (and therefore God) is encouraging us to effectively and sincerely communicate with others about Islam.

This takes us to the 3 C’s of communication.

  • Confrontational
  • Conciliatory
  • Concessional

The Qur’an is not calling us to be confrontational (and therefore aggressive), nor is it calling us to be concessional (to give up our beliefs and stances) but to be conciliatory (literally, to form a bridge or to “come together”, again a “meeting of the minds”)

This is why it is important for Muslims to learn how to communicate properly when inviting to Islam, because it is a command from God. We should also then realize that a failure to live up to this standard is to reject a teaching from Allah. So what are some of the criteria for which a Muslim must live up to?

We are called to “avoid false statements” as found in Qur’an 22:30, the Qur’an also states in 49:11 –

“O believers! Do not let some ˹men˺ ridicule others, they may be better than them, nor let ˹some˺ women ridicule other women, they may be better than them. Do not defame one another, nor call each other by offensive nicknames. How evil it is to act rebelliously after having faith! And whoever does not repent, it is they who are the ˹true˺ wrongdoers.”

In conclusion, da’wah is not a game and should we want to effectively call to Islam, then we must obey the Qur’an’s guidance.

and Allah knows best.

1st Century Markan Fragment?

In 2012, during a debate with Dr. Bart Ehrman, Dr. Daniel Wallace proclaimed that there had been a discovery of a 1st century fragment of the Gospel attributed to Mark. Textual critics have been waiting for over 5 years to finally see a 1st century manuscript only to receive some bad news today. As covered on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, if the fragment published about in the The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Vol. LXXXIII, is the one Daniel Wallace claimed was from the 1st century (and this looks increasingly likely) then it should at least be known now that it actually dates from the late second to early third centuries CE:

markdating

The absolute silence from Wallace, Habermas, Evans and others who promoted a 1st century dating is palpable, they all seem to have gone silent with this recent news. Hopefully more information can be made available soon. Thanks to Peter Gurry for the scan of the journal’s page on the dating of the fragment.

and God knows best.

The Basmala in the Qur’an

bismillahirrahmanirrahim-arabic-i121.jpg

The Basmala as it is known in English as, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful” is one of the proofs of the preservation of the Qur’an. Allow me to explain.

For every Surah except one it is included at the start, it’s excluded in only one Surah. Everyone knows this. There is no Qira’ah (recitation of the Qur’an) that deviates from this and places it at the start of Surah 9. This is peculiar because in the written tradition, if a scribe is monotonously writing the Basmala for every Surah and they have no knowledge or a little knowledge of the Qur’an, it would seem abnormal to leave it out, so from this standard we should expect to see at least one Qira’ah that includes it, yet none do. We see the opposite with the New Testament as doxologies were commonly added because of their oral use in gatherings, we find no such equivalence in the Qur’an.

All the Qira’at have the Basmala as the same. A scribe with little to no knowledge of the Qur’an could have assumed that “Raheem” was mistakenly repeated and omitted it because of “Rahman” being similar. We find no such instance of this in any of the Qira’at. However, according to scribal habits and trends observed with the New Testament, this happened all the time and is known as haplography.

Or they could have assumed another word was meant beside “Raheem” and changed it to “Razaq” to make the phraseology more diverse and “more meaningful” according to their own reasoning, yet we find no instance of this is any Qira’at.

What this teaches us is that had the Qur’an been changed like the New Testament was, we should expect to see the kind of changes I mentioned above. These deviations should have occurred at some point and became their own Qira’at or found their way into one. Yet we find no instance of this and so we must ask ourselves how the untrained and unlettered Muslim world achieved this feat, when the literate and powerful Graeco-Roman peoples had not.

One verse bears with it so much greatness that I can only use the Qur’an to describe itself, “It is not possible for this Qur’an to have been produced by anyone other than God.” – Qur’an 10:37 (translation by Dr. Mustafa KhattabThe Clear Quran).

and Allah knows best.

Why Do Muslims Pray for Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Question:

Why do Muslims pray for Muhammad (peace be upon him) doesn’t that mean he needs prayers or forgiveness from God? This is a claim that often comes up in conversations with Christian missionaries.

Answer:

The primary reason we send salutations of peace and blessings upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) is due to this verse in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, Allah showers His blessings upon the Prophet, and His angels pray for him. O believers! Invoke Allah’s blessings upon him, and salute him with worthy greetings of peace.” – Qur’an 33:56 (translation by Dr. Mustafa Khattab – The Clear Qur’an).

Due to God commanding Muslims to do so, that is the most significant reason for us to convey salutations (praise) upon him. On the other hand, conveying these salutations do not necessarily imply a lack of good on his part or some moral deficiency, this can also be seen in the Lord’s Prayer in the New Testament:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” – Matthew 6:9 (NIV).

“Father, hallowed be your name…” – Luke 11:2 (NIV).

In these passages, “hallowed” refers to respect, honour, glory and to salute (see the Cambridge English Dictionary). No one argues that God lacks respect, honour, glory or needs our salutations, rather these praises are done out of respect, love and admiration. The same in this case applies to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he does not lack these qualities, but rather we have a deep love, admiration and respect for him that is expressed when we convey prayers upon him.

and God knows best.

Bible Passages on a Quranic Manuscript?

Given the discovery of the palimpsest text that is now up for auction at Christie’s, it should be pointed out that one of the primary reasons we do not find much manuscripts like this is because Muslims aren’t allowed to desecrate the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians.

‘O believers!’ Do not insult what they invoke besides God or they will insult God spitefully out of ignorance. – Qur’an 6:108 (translation by Dr. Mustafa Khattab).

Briefly, a palimpsest text occurs when you have a written document that has been erased/ scrubbed off, for a new writing to be written on the freshly erased surface. This involves physical removal of the written text, think of it as writing something with a pencil on a piece of paper, you then physically remove that writing by using an eraser, and then you can write whatever you want on the freshly erased surface. The same principle applies here.

We also need to remember that when you write with a pencil, it imprints on the paper, so even if you did “erase” what you had written with the pencil, the “erased text” can still be read. It’s not an exactly one to one correlation, but the same principles apply to the manuscript that has made the news.

Generally speaking, Muslims can’t and are not allowed to desecrate the Bible, so new copies of the Qur’an were written on new parchment. It is beautiful that this manuscript can show the respect that Muslims can have towards other faiths where our own scribal and scriptural traditions preserve not one religious scripture but two!

shaker

#islam #quran #peace

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