My reason for writing this article:
I do not put this argument forward for the sake of hurting anyone who believes the Qur’an. I do not intend to insult anyone, or to stir up strife. I intend only to offer and defend the truth. That being said, offering and defending the truth in this instance will be done by dismantling a falsehood which Muhammad believed and taught in the Qur’an. As a result, there are things which I must say which will be fittingly harsh, and may cause hurt. If what I am saying is true, then harsh things must be said, considering the gravity of what is at stake, which is the eternal destiny of countless souls. This raises the following questions: Who is God, and how can we know Him? Has God revealed Himself to mankind? If so, how? If it is true that man is at enmity against God, what are the consequences of dying without being reconciled to Him? Being that 1.6 billion people believe that one must be reconciled to god by obeying the teachings of Muhammad; if he was a false prophet then there is nothing too harsh that could said against him.
The Qur’an claims in Surah 4:82 that it is a revelation of God, and to prove that claim it says that were it not from God, it would have incongrueties (inconsistencies, discrepancies, errors), and I am compelled to agree:
“Will they not then ponder on the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much incongruity.” Quran 4:82
That is a standard which I gladly affirm. If anything claiming to be the Word of God has errors in it, then God is simply not its author. It must be the work of someone who is either ignorant, dishonest, or both. That is why I beseech every Muslim reading this article to soberly, solemnly, and sincerely consider what is written here. If the Qur’an is truly God’s word then it will stand up to the most critical examination that any man can conceive; and should any Muslim reader vindicate the Qur’an of the error that I here allege, then your faith in it shall be strengthened. Even Muhammad claims that Allah commanded him to judge his supposed revelations by comparing them to what he claimed Allah had revealed before, which the Qur’an says is the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels; see Surah 5:46-52; 4:163-164. So I exhort you to honestly and diligently obey your god and judge his word according to the truth.
Miriam was the older sister of Moses and Aaron (Harun, in Arabic), and the daughter of Amram (‘Imran, in Arabic). Moses was born in 1393 BC, and Miriam was likely anywhere from 7-12 years older than him (see Exodus 2:4-8); so she was born anywhere from 1400-1405 BC.
Mary (Maryam – archaic; from which we get Miriam) the mother of Jesus was likely born around 20 BC. We are not told how old she was when Christ was conceived in her, nor are we told when she was born; but we do know that she was a young woman.
So the two women were born anywhere from 1380-1385 years apart. The author of the Qur’an however definitely did not know this, because he confused these two women as one and the same. The reason for this was simply that he was ignorant of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the fact that in Arabic the two names are the same. In the Qur’an, Mary is translated from Maryam, which in Arabic writing looks like this: مريم. Thus, the two could easily be confused if the author was ignorant and illiterate, as Muhammad was.
Firstly, we will consider Surah 19, Maryam, and in particular, the context that spans from vv.16-34. In vv.19-22, Allah bestows upon the virgin Mary a faultless son, whom v.34 informs us is Jesus; but the virgin conception and birth were mistaken for harlotry by those who did not believe the miracle, thinking that she was guilty of formication. What is of note here is that they call her “sister of Aaron”:
“Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing. O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.” Qur’an 19:27-28
The two Qur’an verses which I have just quoted strongly suggest that the author of the Qur’an is neither inerrant nor omniscient, and therefore could not be God. But some of Muhammad’s followers having been refuted on this same point by Christians in a place called Najran, sought an answer from him. He then contrived a rescuing device for his indefensible error. Muhammad’s answer is enough to satisfy the minds of those who are content with lies, but as we will see in the course of this article, his answer is completely insufficient to vindicate his erroneous statement. His apologetic response for the error is recorded in Sahih Muslim 5326, one of the Hadiths:
“Mughira b. Shu’ba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read “O sister of Harun” (Aaron) in the Qur’an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them.”
Muhammad is here saying that when the Qur’an refers to Mary as “sister of Aaron”, he was actually using a figure of speech. He was saying that it was a custom of old to refer to someone as being a relative of a pious person of note, such as Aaron, the brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. However, the problems with this are too severe for the credibility of the Qur’an and its author to survive. There are eight problems which I can see with Muhammad’s answer, which I will offer for your consideration.
The first problem:
Muhammad’s apologetic response begs us to believe the utterly implausible notion that even though Mary’s own folk were rebuking her, thinking that she was guilty of fornication, they nevertheless called her the sister of a well respected and reveared prophet of God, even as they were reproving her of harlotry. Are we really to believe that people who reveared Aaron would associate his name with someone they believed to be guilty of harlotry? I address this question to any Muslims reading this article, and I assure you that I mean no disrespect in asking this; but imagine there was a woman in front of you, and it was evident to you that she was guilty of harlotry. Would you address her “O sister of Muhammad”, whilst were reproving her of such a thing? Is this not a complete denigration of Muhammad in your eyes? And yet, being that Aaron was a prophet of God, Muhammad was essentially asking his followers to believe something as denigrating to Aaron and to his God, as that same thing would be to Muhammad and to Allah. This is just the first problem that makes Muhammad’s response untennable.
The Second Problem:
The Christians of Najran knew of no such custom, and so they perceived Muhammad to be saying that Mary was literally the sister of Aaron. This is of course what we would expect if the only record of such a practice in ancient Israel was a claim made by Muhammad in the seventh century. The Christians had never heard of any such practice and so they took that phrase literally.
The third problem:
His followers did not know of any such practice, and it is obvious that never in any of the recitations of the Qur’an did Muhammad point out that “sister of Aaron” was a figure of speech; for otherwise, his followers would easily have been able to give the Christians an answer. Remember, Muhammad did not claim that this was a contemporary Arabic custom; and had it been so, his followers would not have needed to return to him seeking an answer for the refutation given by the Christians. To make matters worse for the credibility of the Qur’an, even Muhammad’s wife Aisha, reckoned by Muslims to be one of the most knowledgeable people of the Islamic faith, was ignorant of any such custom, as we see in the commentary of Ibn Kathir (one of the most respected commentators on the Qur’an in all of Islam) on Surah 19:28:
“… Ka’b said the verse that reads, “O sister of Harun (Aaron)!” (of Sura 19:28) does not refer to Aaron the brother of Moses. Aisha replied to Ka’b, “You have lied.” Ka’b responded, “O Mother of the believers! If the prophet, may Allah’s prayers be upon him, has said it, and he is more knowledgeable, then this is what he related. Besides, I find the difference in time between them (Jesus and Moses) to be 600 years.” He said that she remained silent.”
Ka’b was of course wrong concerning the time between Moses and Christ, but he rightly understood that Mary and Miriam were two different people, noting that they were many centuries apart from one anohter, to which Aisha responded by accusing him of lying. Thus we see that it did not enter her mind that “sister of Aaron” meant anything other than that Mary was literally Aaron’s sister.
The fourth problem:
Only Muhammad in all of history seemed to know of the custom to which he referred in order to defend his error. There is no record of it anywhere in first century Israel, or in the Qur’an. There is of course the practice of referring to the descendents of Abraham as “Abraham’s children”; and calling Christ the “Son of David”. But firstly, those titles are filial (of children), and not fraternal (of siblings). Secondly, one is of the whole nation of Israel (and of any who believe on Christ under the New Testament, see Galatians 3:7,28-29; 4:28), and the other is a special Messianic title singularly referring to Jesus Christ. Thirdly, they are titles relating to direct lineage, but Mary was born of the tribe of Judah according to both Scripture and extra Biblical sources; and Aaron was born of the tribe of Levi. It is true that Mary’s cousin Elisabeth was of the house of Levi (see Luke 1:5,34-36), but priests, who were all of the tribe of Levi, often married women of other tribes; which means that Elisabeth’s father was of Levi, and her mother was of Judah. See 2 Chronicles 22:10-11, where the daughter of Jehoram (who was the king of Judah, of the line of David, who of course descends from Judah) was married to the high priest, who of course was a descendent of Aaron and of Levi. And so the only practice in the Bible similar to that referenced by Muhammad is of filial relationships and not of fraternal; but Mary is not even a daughter of Aaron.
The fifth problem:
Muhammad’s attempt to defend his error is even more inadequate than I have yet shown. Considering what he actually said, there are other texts in the Qur’an for which this Hadith is simply not a sufficient answer. Remember what Muhammad said:
“The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them.”
That apologetic response might rescue Muhammad from being seen as erroneous, claiming that he only meant that Mary was the “sister of Aaron”in a figurative way, if Surah 19:27-28 was the only passage in question. But in Qur’an 66, Al-Tahrîm (the prohibition), we read that Mary is also the daughter of ‘Imran:
“And Mary, daughter of ‘Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.” Qur’an 66:12
So now Muhammad’s defense must be expanded beyond what he actually said, which was that people were often named in relation to notable pious people, such as the apostles, or prophets like Aaron. Taking Qur’an 66:12 into account, it must now be that a person can be figuratively referred to as the daughter of the father of someone of note. In other words, Muhammad’s followers need to believe that in calling Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, Muhammad was figuratively referring to Mary as the daughter of the father of Aaron who was a prophet of God. Remembering the fact that the actual practice to which Muhammad referred is not historically verifiable at all; to believe the Qur’an to be the Word of God means you now have to believe something that is even more convoluted. In other words, to believe the Qur’an to be inerrant, one needs to believe in an unwarranted expansion of a custom which itself is not found in the history of Israel. But it gets worse.
The sixth problem:
The following passages from Qur’an Surah 3, Âl-I-‘Imrân (Family of ‘Imran), make Muhammad’s error completely and utterly indefensible. I charge that to read what follows and yet continue to believe that the Qur’an is inerrant is intellectual dishonesty:
“Lo! Allah preferred Adam and Noah and the Family of Abraham and the Family of ‘Imran above [all His] creatures. They were descendants one of another. Allah is Hearer, Knower. [Remember] when the wife of ‘Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated [offering]. Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower! And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female – Allah knew best of what she was delivered – the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.” Qur’an 3:33-36
So Mary is not said in the Qur’an to be merely the sister of Aaron; nor do we need only to add that she is also the daughter of ‘Imran; but she is also said in the Qur’an to be the daughter of the wife of ‘Imran. In this Surah we also read that this same Mary is the mother of “Jesus”, “whose name is the Messiah”:
“[And remember] when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near [unto Allah].” Qur’an 3:45
It was bad enough that we had to take Muhammad’s historically unverifiable word for it, that it was customary in Israel to refer to someone figuratively as the sister of a prophet or an apostle; which custom is recorded no where for us to verify. But then we had to go beyond what Muhammad said in his defence and believe that it was valid to refer to Mary as the daughter of the Father of Aaron the prophet of God. Now we see that in order to believe the Qur’an to be the word of the inerrant and omniscient God, we must also believe that Mary the mother of Jesus is figuratively the daughter of the wife of the father of Aaron the prophet of God; and not simply that Muhammad, who was illiterate, confused Mary with Miriam, which two women have the same name in Arabic.
The seventh problem:
This passage is quoted from Surah 3, which is called Âl-I-‘Imrân, which in English is “Family of ‘Imran”. We also see from vv.33-34 that ‘Imran’s family lineage is in view. This makes even more untenable the already absurd notion that Muhammad was only figuratively referring to Mary as the daughter of the wife of the father of Aaron the prophet of God. This chapter is referring to ‘Imran’s family in a literal and genealogical sense. Mary was not descended from Amram; she was not of the family of Aaron; and she was not of the tribe of Levi. Mary was of Judah. Muhammad confused Mary the mother of Jesus with Moses’ sister Miriam. Miriam was actually the daughter of the wife of ‘Imran; and the daughter of ‘Imran himself; as well as the sister of Aaron. Yet Muhammad, who claimed to be a prophet of God, said all of these things about Mary the mother of Jesus; and Muslim’s, to remain Muslim’s, must believe that this was not simply an illiterate man pretending to be a prophet of God confusing Mary with another Biblical figure of the same name.
The eighth problem:
We come now to our final and perhaps our most damming problem of all for Muhammad’s apologetic response. Remember, if Muhammad’s defence does not stand, then he is proven to be a false prophet. What is said of Mary in Surah 3 cannot be a figurative statement, as Muhammad tried to say of Surah 19:28. Read again what is written there:
“… the wife of ‘Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated [offering]. Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower! And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female – Allah knew best of what she was delivered – the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.” Qur’an 3:35-36
The Qur’an claims that the wife of ‘Imran said these words out of her own mouth. This passage does not actually call Mary the daughter of the wife of ‘Imran. It is therefore impossible to suppose this to be some figurative title, as it is no title at all. If one wants to believe untenable and convoluted defences of obvious errors to justify continued faith in the Qur’an, one could believe that Muhammad was figuratively calling Mary the daughter of the wife of ‘Imran, the father of Aaron the prophet of God. But this text does not actually call Mary any such thing. Instead, this passage is claiming that ‘Imran’s wife literally said that she literally gave birth to Mary who was literally in her belly, whom she herself literally named Mary; which same Mary literally became the mother of Jesus Christ. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Qur’an claims that Mary is the daughter of Moses’ father; that Moses is Christ’s uncle; and that two women who were born 14 centuries apart are one and the same person. In other words, it stands proven that Muhammad, through his ignorance, simply made an obvious mistake, which mistake he then pawned off in the Qur’an as a revelation from the all-knowing God. And to make matters worse, Muhammad then tried to cover up his error with deception. Despite his claim to be a prophet of God, he was truly no more than a liar.
Even if Muhammad did simply refer to Mary as the daughter of ‘Imran’s wife (which he didn’t), are we really meant to believe that it was customary to refer to someone as having been figuratively delivered from the womb of the wife of the Father of a prophet of God? Is it not rather more likely that this was simply Muhammad’s contrivance to cover up the fact that he made a mistake, and that he was a false prophet pretending to speak for God? Miriam was the sister of Aaron; and the daughter of ‘Imran; and she was born of ‘Imran’s wife. Mary the mother of Jesus was none of those things. Is the truth not painfully obvious? I say it is. But sinners are not just capable, but have a long history of believing absolutely anything in order to continue living life on their own preferred terms, insofar as they possibly can.
This is tremendously important to consider. Muhammad’s Qur’an commands people to judge by the Torah and the Gospel. Yet when one does so, the doctrine therein indicts Muhammad as a teacher of falsehoods. The Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God, and God incarnate, who was crucified on the cross, dying in the place of sinners. The Qur’an denies all of this. Muslims therefore claim that the Bible must have been corrupted, judging the Bible by the Qur’an; though the Qur’an commands us to judge the Qur’an by the Bible. But Muslims judge the Bible by the words of Muhammad who is here shown to be in error, and is here shown to have lied in order to cover up his error. Is it then wise to continue judging the Bible as a corrupted book because it does not line up with the doctrines of a man who is here shown to have been ignorant of what the Bible teaches? It is the height of foolishness, and it must be repented of.
I am convinced that it stands proven that the author of the Qur’an is neither omniscient nor infallible, and therefore the author of the Qur’an is not God. The Qur’an is not God’s Word. I therefore urge my Muslim friends to repent of their faith in a book which mocks God by desecrating His perfections; for they credit something so erroneous and so contrived to Him. That is worse than condemning an innocent man as being guilty of murder. God is omniscient, inerrant, infallible, and incapable of lies. The Qur’an was written by someone who was none of these things. It is an insult to God’s holiness to say that He authored such error, or that He sent such a prophet as Muhammad. All who have declared the Qur’an to be God’s Word have sinned greatly.
Concerning false prophets and those who follow them, the true Word of God says:
“I have not sent them, saith the LORD, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you.” Jeremiah 27:15
But concerning the salvation of sinners, God says:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:23-26
“Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts…” Hebrews 3:7-8