Over the past several months, I have learned that no matter how sincere I am in my approach, simply questioning the teachings of Muhammad and the Qur’an is going to offend some people. I can’t prevent that. I also cannot stop asking critically important questions.
Since the foremost criticism I receive while questioning the teachings of Muhammad is that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are corrupt, allow me to remove that obstacle from the onset. I will only ask questions based on the traditions and sacred texts of Islam.
Allow me to start with questions concerning the Qur’an itself.
How can we be completely certain that the Qur’an is truly from Allah and accurately transmitted? According to Sahih Bukhari (Sahih Bukhari – Volume 1, Book 1, Hadith 3), Jibril had to read the original text to Muhammad because Muhammad couldn’t read. Then, Muhammad had to memorize everything that was revealed to him and recite it to his companions who recorded it. That leads to the second set of questions concerning the veracity of the Qur’an.
If the Qur’an is without error and faithfully transmitted from Jibril to Muhammad, and then to Muhammad’s companions, why wasn’t the Qur’an immediately compiled by Abü Bakr or Caliph `Umar, the first and second successors to Muhammad? Why did Caliph `Uthmän, the third successor to Muhammad, have to make adjustments to the companions’ texts to compile the Qur’an that exists today? What proof exists that the Qur’an that exists today contains the same exact message as the original texts recited to Muhammad by Jibril since no one who could read actually saw the original texts?
To eliminate any unnecessary controversy concerning textual integrity, allow me to stipulate that the Qur’an today is exactly what was recited to Muhammad by Jibril, word for word. But, that still doesn’t address the Sunna and Hadith. Are they considered completely reliable, or are some hadith considered corrupt? If there are some hadith that are considered corrupt, which ones are they and why?
Now, allow me to present a few questions concerning the heritage of Islam before Muhammad.
According to the Qur’an, Allah created Adam who was the first Muslim in submission to Allah. From there, we trace Adam’s lineage to Noah and eventually Abraham. All Muslim, according to the Qur’an. From Abraham, we find a progression initially to Ishmael, and then Isaac, Jacob, and the descendants. Who is Isaac? Is Isaac Ishmael’s son? Are Ishmael and Isaac both sons of Abraham? Who is Jacob? Did Jacob ever have another name? Who are Jacob’s descendants? The more pressing question is who are Ishmael’s descendants? Why aren’t Ismael’s descendants listed in the Qur’an?
Where is Ishmael buried? Is anyone of significance from the heritage of Islam buried with him? Where is Abraham buried? Is anyone of significance from the heritage of Islam buried with him? What is the Tomb of the Patriarchs? Where is it? Who is buried there?
Of the long list of messengers and prophets of Islam, do they have a common lineage or heritage? Can they all be traced back to Abraham? If so, are they connected to Abraham through Ishmael or Isaac?
Did any of the messengers or prophets record their own texts outside the Qur’an? What about Moses, David, Solomon, Job, or Ezekiel? If they did, is there any record of those texts today? If they exist, what do they say? What about the other messengers and prophets like Joseph, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, or Jesus? Is there anything written about them outside the Qur’an? If so, what is written about them?
According to the Qur’an, something significant happened to usher Jesus into the world. He wasn’t born naturally of a man and woman. Instead, Mary was given a special gift when she was supernaturally impregnated. Who is Jesus’ father? Unlike Adam who was created from the dust, Jesus was born of a woman (Mary, the mother of Jesus), so he must have a father. According to the Qur’an, Allah simply said “Be,” and Jesus was, so wouldn’t that make Allah Jesus’ father? Unfortunately, the Qur’an clearly teaches Allah has no son and no partners.
Since the Qur’an clearly states Allah has no partners, why does it frequently quote Allah as saying “we” or “us”? If Allah is referring to Muhammad, as some imams teach, wouldn’t that mean Muhammad is Allah’s supernatural partner since he would have existed prior to being born of a human father and human mother? If Allah is not referring to Muhammad, who is Allah referring to if he has no partners?
Now, allow me to present a few questions concerning Islamic worship before Muhammad.
According to the Qur’an, Abraham and Ishmael built the Kab’ah in Mecca as the central place of worship for humanity. Was there ever another place of central worship utilized by the messengers and prophets of Islam? Was the Kab’ah always and only used in the worship of Allah, or was there a time that other gods were worshiped there? Is there any history of Muhammad’s Quraysh relatives acting as conservators of the Kab’ah during a period of polytheism, meaning many gods were worshiped in association with the Kab’ah?
Now, allow me to present a few questions concerning Islamic worship after Muhammad.
Starting as early as Muhammad’s birth, why was Jesus provided a miraculous entry into the world while Muhammad was born naturally of a man and woman? Wouldn’t that make Jesus more significant than Muhammad? Why did Muhammad’s foster mother think he was demon possessed? Why did Muhammad think he was demon possessed after his first encounter with Jibril? Why does Sahih Bukhari (Sahih Bukhari – Volume 1, Book 1, Hadith 3) indicate Muhammad’s uncle Waraqa became a Christian during the pre-Islamic period if Islam traces its roots to Adam?
Aside from the revelations Muhammad received in the caves of Hira and beyond, what are the most significant events that happened to Muhammad to bolster his authority as the messenger of Allah? Was it the Isra (night journey) and Mi’raj (ascent to heaven)?
Where did Muhammad go during the Isra and how did he get there? Did he travel to al-Aqsa Mosque on Buraq? Where was al-Aqsa located and when was it built? Was it located in Jerusalem? Was it built within 40 years of Abraham and Ishmael building the Kab’ah, as Muhammad said (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Hadith 585), or was it built by Caliph al-Walid after Muhammad died? Is there any proof of al-Aqsa in Jerusalem before the existing structure was built?
Did Muhammad go anywhere else before his ascent to heaven? Did he visit a temple in Jerusalem? Whose temple was it? Who did he meet there? What is the significance of the temple and the people he met there? Is the temple connected in any way with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Moses? Where is the land Allah granted to Moses after the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt? Who are the children of Israel? Where is Israel? Does the land granted to Moses and the children of Israel hold any significance as it pertains to Abraham?
During the Mi’raj, how did Muhammad ascend the seven levels of heaven, was it by a ladder or was it upon Buraq? Who did Muhammad meet in heaven? What is the significance of the people he met in heaven? Did Muhammad receive any specific instructions during his time in heaven regarding compulsory prayer (Salat)? What was the original direction people faced while practicing Salat? Did the direction ever change? Why did it change? What direction do Muslims face today while practicing Salat?
Since the Qur’an teaches Abraham and Ishmael built the Kab’ah in Mecca as the central place of worship for humanity, why was Muhammad taken to Jerusalem during the Isra, and specifically to the temple in Jerusalem, as a precursor to his journey to heaven? Why Jerusalem and not Mecca? Why the temple in Jerusalem and not the Kab’ah?
Now, allow me to present a few questions concerning Jerusalem and Islam today.
Since the Qur’an indicates Moses and the children of Israel were Muslim in submission to Allah, why is there such controversy over the nation of Israel and Jerusalem among the Muslim nations today? If the children of Israel were truly Muslim, and Allah granted them their land as an inheritance, Israel and Jerusalem should be Waqf territory belonging to the children of Israel forever, or at least until the Day of Judgment. Why do majority Muslim nations deny Israel’s right to the land granted to them by Allah?
Is the reason Israel and Jerusalem are contested because the children of Israel today are Jewish, not Muslim?
Finally, allow me to present a few remaining questions.
When did the children of Israel become Jews rather than Muslim? What does it mean to be Jewish? What is the heritage of the Jews? Who is the God of the Jews according to their own heritage?
Do Israel and Jerusalem hold any significance for Christians? What does it mean to be a Christian? What is the heritage of Christianity? Who is the God of Christianity? Is there a difference between the Christian view of Jesus compared to Muslim tradition? If there is a difference concerning Jesus, why does it matter?
Where is the heritage of the Jews and Christians recorded? Is there any archeological proof to validate the heritage of the Jews and Christians, including, but not limited to, preserved texts predating Muhammad? What is the Septuagint Bible? What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? What are the P52, P66, P72, and P75 manuscripts? What is the Diatessaron? Have those manuscripts been scientifically dated? Have those preserved texts been compared to contemporary manuscripts to validate accuracy? Have they been verified as accurate?
Is there any overlap between the heritage of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims? Is there any conflict between the heritage of the Jews and Christians presented by the Qur’an as opposed to the heritage presented in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures?
If the preserved Hebrew and Christian scriptures predate Muhammad, and their texts have been verified as accurate, shouldn’t they at least be given fair consideration while comparing the conflicting claims of their respective heritages? More to the point, if the Hebrew and Christian scriptures both predate the Qur’an, and have been proven contextually accurate today compared to the earliest manuscripts, why are we so quick to dismiss them as corrupt if what they present conflicts with the Qur’an?
Even without the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, how can we reconcile the many conflicts between the Qur’an and Hadith even from the short list of questions presented above? If we are not allowed to question Muhammad, how do we reconcile the differences? Are we supposed to ignore them?
Come, let us reason together…