Being a Response to a Muslim Apologist
Bassam Zawadi has produced a reply (*) to my article where I show that the Quran contradicts itself in that there are verses Allah says that he has chosen or preferred some prophets/messengers over some others whereas another passage says that he makes no distinction between them whatsoever (*).
Shamoun throughout his entire article sets out to attempt proving that the verse does not clearly indicate that it is the believers who are speaking in Surah 2:285. However, Shamoun fails to realize that he hasn't even clearly shown that it cannot be the believers who are supposed to be uttering that statement in Surah 2:285. He hasn't shown that it definitely has to be Allah who is speaking in the first person.
For instance, Shamoun says:
For instance, right after this sentence the author(s) insert(s) the words "they say" (qaloo) in order to indicate that he is quoting the words of the Muslims, but doesn't/don't include this term for what comes beforehand.
This is not a strong argument. Imam Tabari in his commentary explains why the word qaaloo is not there before the first statement from a linguistic perspective and also appeals to Surah 13:23-24 as an example by showing that it is clearly the angels who are saying "Peace unto you for that ye persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the final home!", yet the words "they say" are not put there before the statement.
Here is the particular text in question in order to see just how weak Zawadis case is,
Gardens of Eden which they shall enter; and those who were righteous of their fathers, and their wives, and their seed, shall enter them, and the angels shall enter unto them from every gate: Peace be upon you, for that you were patient. Fair is the Ultimate Abode. S. 13:23-24
There are two main objections to Zawadis appeal to this citation. First, how does Zawadi know for certain that the words within quotations are that of the angels? How does he know that this isnt simply the author(s) of the Quran, who is supposed to be Allah, speaking as he addresses those who enter into Paradise at the last day?
This leads to the second problem. Citing an example where words are omitted doesnt solve the problem but only compounds the issue since it further proves that the Quran is an incoherent mess. It is not the linguistic masterpiece that Muslims like Zawadi claim.
In fact, this example substantiates the conclusions of the late Iranian Islamic scholar Ali Dashti who wrote that,
"The Qor'an contains sentences which are incomplete and not fully intelligible without the aid of commentaries; foreign words, unfamiliar Arabic words, and words used with other than the normal meaning; adjectives and verbs inflected without observance of the concords of gender and number; illogically and ungrammatically applied pronouns which sometimes have no referent; and predicates which in rhymed passages are often remote from the subjects. These and other such aberrations in the language have given scope to critics who deny the Qor'an's eloquence. The problem also occupied the minds of devout Moslems. It forced the commentators to search for explanations and was probably one of the causes of disagreement over readings." (Dashti, Twenty-Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, translated from Persian by F.R.C. Bagley [Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, CA 1994], pp. 48-49; underline emphasis ours)
"To sum up, more than one hundred Qor'anic aberrations from the normal rules and structure of Arabic have been noted. Needless to say, the commentators strove to find explanations and justifications for these irregularities.
"Among them was the great commentator and philologist Mahmud oz-Zamakhshari (467/1075-538/1144), of whom a Moorish author wrote: This grammar-obsessed pedant has committed a shocking error. Our task is not to make the readings conform to Arabic grammar, but to take the whole of the Qor'an as it is and make the Arabic grammar conform to the Qor'an.
"Up to a point this argument is justifiable. A nation's great speakers and writers respect the rules of its language in so far as they avoid modes of expression which are not generally understood and popularly accepted, though they may occasionally find themselves obliged to take liberties. Among the pre-Islamic Arabs, rhetoric and poetry were well developed and grammatical conventions were already established. The Qor'an, being in the belief of Moslems superior to all previous products of the rhetorical genius, must contain the fewest irregularities.
"Yet the Moorish author's censure of Zamakhshari is open to criticism on the ground that it reverses the usual argument. This is that the Qor'an is God's word because it has a sublime eloquence which no human being can match, and that the man who uttered it was therefore a prophet. The Moorish author maintained that the Qor'an is faultless because it is God's word and that the problem of the grammatical errors in it must be solved by changing the rules of Arabic grammar. In other words, while most Moslems answer deniers by citing the Qor'an's eloquence as proof of Mohammad's prophethood, the Moorish author, having taken the Qor'an's divine origin and Mohammad's prophethood for granted, held all discussion of the Qor'an's wording and contents to be inadmissible." (Pp. 50-51; underline emphasis ours)
He further stated that,
"The Qoran contains many instances of confusion between the two speakers, God and Mohammad, in the same verse Among these many passages are some, like the above, which can be easily explained, but also others which present great difficulty The presence of confusions between God and the Prophet in the Qoran cannot objectively be disputed. Sometimes God speaks, giving to the Prophet the command say (i.e. to the people). Sometimes the sentence structure proves that it is the Prophet who speaks, expressing devotion to God. The impression conveyed by the Qoran is that a hidden voice in Mohammads soul or subconscious mind was continually impelling him to guide the people, restraining him from lapses, and providing him with solutions to problems." (Pp. 150-151; underline emphasis ours)
"Confusion between Gods and Mohammads 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 Gods permission. And He inflicts vileness on those who are 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 Mohammads, a sort of self-consolation followed by an explanation of the obduracy of the polytheists who would not heed his teaching." (P. 152; underline emphasis ours)
Dashti wasn't the only one who saw that the Quran has considerable linguistic and structural problems. Even some modern Muslim writers admit that the Quran's grammatical structure has caused many an exegete and scholar tremendous difficulties in understanding and interpreting the text. Farid Esack is one such Muslim who candidly admits that,
" This poses difficulties for those engaged in critical scholarship and these texts have been invoked in support of the notion that the Qur'an is not entirely the product if [sic] a single entity. There are also several cases where the speaker alternates between singular and plural forms adding to the notion that the Qur'an was compiled in an incoherent manner Besides God, though, numerous ayat suggest that the Angels or the Prophet himself are the direct speakers and it is only the interpolations of translators or the comments of the exegetes that suggest otherwise. Ayat such as 19:64-65, for example, if read without interpolation of the translator, clearly suggest that the Angels are the speakers In a few ayat, such as 27:91, the obvious speaker seem to be the Prophet and then a sudden switch occurs when he becomes the one being addressed The fact that these ayat are often characterized by a later addition of say (qul) suggests that the entire section may have been [in other words, pure conjecture] preceded by the unarticulated instruction say. Muslims have always understood it in this manner. In other words, the fact that they are the direct words of the Prophet or of the Angels does not detract from the other-worldliness of the Qur'an. They were merely repeating words that in the first instance came from God." (Esack, The Qur'an - A Short Introduction [Oneworld Publications, Oxford 2002] pp. 74-75; statements within brackets and underline emphasis ours)
Certain Islamic scholars like Richard Bell and W. M. Watt view the chaotic structure of the Quran as proof that it has been altered:
"There are indeed many roughnesses of this kind, and these, it is here claimed, are fundamental evidence for revision. Besides the points already noticed hidden rhymes, and rhyme-phrases not woven into the texture of the passage there are the following: abrupt changes of rhyme; repetition of the same rhyme word or rhyme phrase in adjoining verses; the intrusion of an extraneous subject into a passage otherwise homogeneous; a differing treatment of the same subject in neighboring verses, often with repetition of words and phrases; breaks in grammatical construction which raise difficulties in exegesis; abrupt changes in the length of verses; sudden changes of the dramatic situation, with changes of pronoun from singular to plural, from second to third person, and so on; the juxtaposition of apparently contradictory statements; the juxtaposition of passages of different date, with the intrusion of late phrases into early verses. In many cases a passage has alternative continuations which follow one another in the present text. The second of the alternatives is marked by a break in sense and by a break in grammatical construction, since the connection is not with what immediately precedes, but with what stands some distance back." (Bell & Watt, Introduction to the Quran [Edinburgh, 1977], p. 93 - as cited in Ibn Warraq's Why I am not a Muslim [Prometheus Books; Amherst NY, 1995], pp. 112-113; underline emphasis ours)
Thus, if Zawadi keeps insisting that these are the words of the believers which the Quran is quoting then he is going to have to accept the conclusion of Islamic scholars that the Muslim scripture contains grammatical errors and irregularities, omitting key words at crucial places, thereby causing confusion and leading to misunderstanding among the various Muslim expositors.
And, just as we stated in our initial article, all of these problems could have been avoided if the author(s) simply inserted the word qaloo (assuming, of course, that his intention was to communicate the statements of the believers in Q. 2:285, and not the words of Allah), just as we find in the following examples:
Yet when the truth came to them 'from Ourselves, they say (qaloo), 'Why has he not been given the like' of that Moses was given?' But they, did they not disbelieve also in what Moses was given aforetime? They say (qaloo), 'A pair of sorceries mutually supporting each other.' And they say (wa qaloo), 'We disbelieve both.' S. 28:48
And when Our signs are recited to them, clear signs, they say (qaloo), 'This is naught but a man who desires to bar you from that your fathers served'; and they say (wa qaloo), 'This is nothing but a forged calumny.' And the unbelievers say to the truth, when it has come to them, 'This is nothing but manifest sorcery. S. 34:43
They say (qaloo), 'No, it is you who have no welcome; you forwarded it for us; how evil an establishment!' They say (qaloo), 'Our Lord, whoso forwarded this for us, give him a double chastisement in the Fire!' And they say (wa qaloo), 'How is it with us, that we do not see men here that we counted among the wicked? S. 38:60-62
And when the truth came to them, they say (qaloo), 'This is a sorcery, and in it we are unbelievers.' And they say (wa qaloo), 'Why was this Koran not sent down upon some man of moment in the two cities?' S. 43:30-31
They say (qaloo), 'Yes indeed, a warner came to us; but we cried lies, saying, "God has not sent down anything; you are only in great error. And they say (wa qaloo), 'If we had only heard, or had understood, we would not have been of the inhabitants of the Blaze.' S. 67:9-10
Yet the failure on the part of the author(s) to include just this one simple word has led to confusion and contradiction.
Zawadis argument goes from bad to worse:
Furthermore, one can easily argue back that when the verse says "and they say" (wa qaaloo) this means that Allah is saying "and they also say". So this shows that the previous statement was a quotation of the believers' statements and Allah is continuing on and letting us know what else the believers are to say by saying "and they say".
There is nothing in the words wa qaloo that even remotely suggest the translation "and they also say," just as the following examples conclusively demonstrate:
And they say (wa qaloo), 'Our hearts are uncircumcised.' Nay, but God has cursed them for their unbelief; little will they believe. 2:88
And they say (wa qaloo), 'None shall enter Paradise except that they be Jews or Christians.' Such are their fancies. Say: 'Produce your proof, if you speak truly.' 2:111
And they say (wa qaloo), 'God has taken to Him a son. Glory be to Him! Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth; all obey His will -- 2:116
And they say (wa qaloo), 'Be Jews or Christians and you shall be guided.' Say thou: 'Nay, rather the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith; he was no idolater.' 2:135
This is simply Zawadis presupposition which is being read into the text since he erroneously assumes beforehand that it is the believers who are saying that they make no distinction between any of the messengers. And because of this erroneous assumption Zawadi desperately seeks to prove his case with the flimsiest of arguments.
In fact, looking at the statement(s) coming directly before wa qaloo in the above instances, we see that each time the speaker is Allah (cf. 2:87, 110, 115, 134) and wa qaloo indicates the switch of the speaker, not the continuation of the same speaker.
Nor am I alone in interpreting Q. 2:285 in this manner since even the following Muslim scholar sees this as a statement from Allah affirming that, like the Muslims, he too doesn't distinguish between the prophets:
“It is a tenet of faith in Islam that Muhammad is the final prophet in a long line of Abrahamic prophets all conveying the same basic message to humanity. Therefore, a Muslim must necessarily believe in Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and many others as prophets of the same and one God – all bearing the same essential message of submission to God. For example, the Qur’an proclaims the following testament of faith: ‘The Prophet believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord. And so do the faithful believe in the same. Each one believes in God and His angels, His Books, and the prophets and We make no distinction between the apostles. They all say, “We hear and obey, and we seek your forgiveness O Lord, for to You we shall journey in the end.”’ As this verse emphasizes, GOD CONSIDERS all the Abrahamic prophets to be equals, and all the prophets upheld the same core set of beliefs.
“The same idea is made even more explicit in the following Qur’anic revelation addressed to Muslims: ‘Say, we believe in God, and what has been revealed to us, and in what has been sent down to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their offspring, and what has been revealed to Moses and Jesus and to all other prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between them, and we submit to Him and obey.’ In this verse, it is Muslims who are commanded to believe in the Abrahamic prophets equally and without distinction…” (Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft – Wrestling Islam From The Extremists [HarperOne, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers; paperback edition 2007], Part Two. Charting the Moderate Versus the Puritan Divide, Chapter Five: What All Muslims Agree Upon, pp. 115-116; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Zawadi, thus far, has failed to adequately address my points. And we want to personally thank Zawadi for bringing up this particular argument, since the result of our close examination of this argument did not only lead to a refutation of it, exposing it as wrong, but provided us with additional corroboration and further substantiation for our original thesis.
Now let us see how well he does with his second explanation.
There is a second response to this. That is that even if Shamoun is correct and it really is Allah who is uttering the statement in Surah 2:285 this does not contradict Surah 2:253 and 17:55.
The statement "we make no distinction between any of His messengers" could mean that the Messengers are not to be distinguished by negating the Messengership of some them and affirming it for others.
After quoting some Muslim exegetes to substantiate this interpretation Zawadi then concludes,
So here we see that when Allah says that the Messengers are not to be distinguished, that means that they should not be distinguished by the fact that some of them are Messengers or not just like how the Christians and Jews have done.
Obviously this verse cannot be taken so hyper literally. One can distinguish Muhammad (peace be upon him) by saying that he is the last messenger of God from Jesus who is the second last messenger sent by God. Now obviously doing this would not render the verse to be factually wrong, since this is not what the verse is trying to say. Rather, the verse is emphasizing the fact that all Messengers must be recognized as Messengers of Allah. So this does not contradict Surah 2:253 & 17:55 because these verses are only saying that some of these Prophets have been preferred over one another, yet they are not distinguished (according to Surah 2:285) by saying that some of them are Messengers while some of them are not.
What the text could mean and what it actually does mean is not the same thing. There are several reasons for rejecting Zawadis explanation. First, does Zawadi really want us to believe that Allah is saying that he doesnt negate the apostleship of any of his prophets when the Quran itself distinguishes between a prophet and a messenger?
We sent not ever any Messenger OR Prophet before thee, but that Satan cast into his fancy, when he was fancying; but God annuls what Satan casts, then God confirms His signs -- surely God is All-knowing, All-wise -- S. 22:52
This distinction assumes that prophets and messengers are not necessarily interchangeable terms and that a person can be one without necessarily being the other. In fact, in the Quran there are prophets who are messengers but not every messenger is a prophet.
And He will teach him [Jesus] the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel, to be a Messenger to the Children of Israel saying, "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it, and it will be a bird, by the leave of God. I will also heal the blind and the leper, and bring to life the dead, by the leave of God. I will inform you too of what things you eat, and what you treasure up in your houses. Surely in that is a sign for you, if you are believers." S. 3:48-49
He [Jesus] said, Lo, I am God's servant; God has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet. S. 19:30
Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but the Messenger of God, and the Seal of the Prophets; God has knowledge of everything O Prophet, We have sent thee as a witness, and good tidings to bear and warning, S. 33:40, 45
And when Jesus son of Mary said, 'Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.' Then, when he brought them the clear signs, they said, 'This is a manifest sorcery.' S. 61:6
To further substantiate that one can be a messenger without being a prophet, keep in mind that even though the Quran says that angels can be messengers,
Allah chooses messengers from angels and from men, for Allah is He Who hears and sees (all things). S. 22:75
Praise be to Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who appointeth the angels messengers having wings two, three and four. He multiplieth in creation what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things. S. 35:1
It never calls them prophets. In light of these examples doesnt this prove that Allah has actually made a distinction between the messengers by making some of them prophets?
We therefore challenge Zawadi to produce a single Quranic verse or explicit statements where the Muslim scripture emphatically says that the reverse is true, i.e. even though every messenger is a prophet not every prophet is a messenger. We will not accept Quranic references where he has to read his erroneous presuppositions into them, such as we find Muslims doing when they try to prove from the Quran that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, even though they end up butchering their so-called holy text in order to arrive at that conclusion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7, 8).
Secondly, does Zawadi mean that Allah does not reject a prophet/messenger and take away inspiration from him? If so then this only introduces another contradiction since the Quran says that Allah actually can do this:
And when Our signs are recited to them, clear signs, those who look not to encounter Us say, 'Bring a Koran other than this, or alter it.' Say: 'It is not for me to alter it of my own accord. I follow nothing, except what is revealed to me. Truly I fear, if I should rebel against my Lord, the chastisement of a dreadful day.' Say: 'Had God willed I would not have recited it to you, neither would He have taught you it; I abode among you a lifetime before it -- will you not understand?' S. 10:15-16
Indeed they were near to seducing thee from that We revealed to thee, that thou mightest forge against Us another, and then they would surely have taken thee as a friend; and had We not confirmed thee, surely thou wert near to inclining unto them a very little; then would We have let thee taste the double of life and the double of death; and then thou wouldst have found none to help thee against Us If We willed, We could take away that We have revealed to thee, then thou wouldst find none thereover to guard thee against Us, excepting by some mercy of thy Lord; surly His favour to thee is great. S. 17:73-75, 86-87
Had he invented against Us any sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand, then We would surely have cut his life-vein and not one of you could have defended him. S. 69:44-47
Or does Zawadi mean that Allah believes that all his messengers whom he has sent were actually messengers? If so does this even make any sense at all to have Allah saying such a thing when it is obvious that he believes in the messengership of all his apostles seeing that he is the one who actually commissioned them to be his emissaries in the first place? Zawadi basically empties the statement of any meaning, saying: Allah believes that all of his messengers are messengers. So what? That is a tautology. It only says that Allah does not deny that his messengers are his messengers. Why should he? What would be the point of this statement? If he doesnt want any of them to be messengers, he would have not sent them in the first place.
Thirdly, the following text also exhorts the believers to make no distinction between the prophets/messengers:
Say you: 'We believe in God, and in that which has been sent down on us and sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the Prophets, of their Lord; we make no division between any of them, and to Him we surrender.' S. 2:136
According to Muhammad, one of the ways to avoid making a distinction among the prophets/messengers is to refrain from claiming that some of them are greater than others:
XXXV: The words of Allah Almighty, "Yunus too was one of the Messengers - to His words - The fish devoured him and he was to blame." (37:139-148)
Mujahid said that mulîm" means wrong-doing and "mashhûn" is full.
"Had it not been that he was a man who glorifies..." "We cast him up onto the beach" on the surface of the earth, "and he was sick, and We caused a gourd-tree to grow over him," a plant without a stem which includes gourds and other similar plants. "We sent him to a hundred thousand or more. They believed, so We gave them enjoyment for a time." (37:142:148)
"Do not be like the Companion of the Fish when he called out in absolute despair." (68:48) "Kathîm" is "in grief"...
3233. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, "While a Jew was offering his goods for sale, he was offered something for them which he disliked, and he said, 'No, by the One who chose Musa over mankind.' A man of the Ansar heard him and got up and slapped his face. He said, 'Do you say, "By the One who chose Musa over mankind," when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is among us!' So the Jew went to him and said, 'Abu'l-Qasim! I have protection and a pledge, so what business does so-and-so have in slapping my face?' He said, 'Did you slap his face?' He mentioned it to him and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, became angry so that it could be seen in his face. Then he said, 'Do not make preference between the Prophets of Allah. The Trumpet will be blown, and everyone who is in the heavens and everyone who is the earth will swoon, except whomever Allah wills. Then it will be blown a second time and I will be the first to be raised. There Musa will be holding to the Throne. I will not known whether his swooning on the Day of the Mount was enough or whether he was raised before me, and I do not say that anyone is better than Yunus ibn Matta.'" (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 64. Book of the Prophets; source)
Another version of the above hadith reads:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Once while a Jew was selling something, he was offered a price that he was not pleased with. So, he said, "No, by Him Who gave Moses superiority over all human beings!" Hearing him, an Ansari man got up and slapped him on the face and said, "You say: By Him Who Gave Moses superiority over all human beings although the Prophet (Muhammad) is present amongst us!" The Jew went to the Prophet and said, "O Abu-l-Qasim! I am under the assurance and contract of security, so what right does so-and-so have to slap me?" The Prophet asked the other, "Why have you slapped". He told him the whole story. The Prophet became angry, till anger appeared on his face, and said, "Don't give superiority to any prophet amongst Allah's Prophets, for when the trumpet will be blown, everyone on the earth and in the heavens will become unconscious except those whom Allah will exempt. The trumpet will be blown for the second time and I will be the first to be resurrected to see Moses holding Allah's Throne. I will not know whether the unconsciousness which Moses received on the Day of Tur has been sufficient for him, or has he got up before me. And I do not say that there is anybody who is better than Yunus bin Matta." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 626)
Since this is identical to what Allah says in Q. 2:285, i.e. he makes no distinction between any of the prophets, this suggests that the meaning would be the same and that Allah would therefore not prefer some messengers over others and wouldnt grant greater honor to some and not to others. Clearly this is not the case since, according to Q. 2:253 and 17:55, Allah does prefer and choose certain prophets over others.
The contradiction, therefore, remains.
Zawadi comes out with another (failed) attempt (*) to refute our point that the Quran contradicts itself whether Allah chooses some prophets over others.
When asked how he knows for certain that the angels are speaking in Q. 13:23-24, Zawadi replies by saying because all of the Islamic commentators said so! What makes this reply rather amusing is that this exposes Zawadis blatant inconsistent and double standards. For instance, in several of his "responses" one will find Zawadi accusing me of committing the fallacy of appealing to authority, even though he has no clue what this fallacy actually entails or when it is being committed:
Shamoun is committing nothing more than the fallacy of appeal to authority. His quoting of Ibn Attiya does not change the fact that the narration is still weak. Is Ibn Attiya (546 A.H.) infallible? No. Is it proven that the narration is not reliable? Yes. So which side should we take? The answer is obvious.
Again, Shamoun is committing the fallacy of appeal to authority regarding Ibn Abbas' narration. (Did Ibn Abbas Believe The Christian and Jewish Scriptures Were Uncorrupted? A Response to Sam Shamoun; source)
Here comes Shamoun's second fallacy, which is that of appeal to authority and his second act of desperation.
One more time:
Shamoun in point number 1 commits the fallacy of appeal to authority and turns a blind eye to the evidence that shows that this narration is doubtful. (Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Did Muhammad Confirm the Torah?: Addressing the Smokescreens of a Muslim Polemicist"; source)
Yet in this rebuttal he not only commits this very fallacy himself he is also guilty of the fallacy of ad populum, appealing to the majority or consensus. Amazingly, he tries to justify his inconsistent methodology and gross logical fallacies in another article:
This is not a matter of appealing to authority [sic]. For they are a source of religious authority [sic] (as I explain in my article here) Just as one cannot accuse a Muslim of appealing to authority if he appeals to the Qur'an or authentic prophetic traditions, one also cannot do the same if a Muslim appeals to the consensus of the Muslim scholars on an issue or the Salaf, for they are a source of religious authority in Islam. (Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Allah's Promise to Preserve of the Bible: A Reminder to One Muslim Dawagandist"; source)
Notice all of the unwarranted and unproven assumptions that Zawadi brings to the table. He assumes that it is necessary to appeal to the supposed authentic prophetic narrations in order to understand the Quran, which further assumes that these traditions are consistent with the Muslim scripture as well as with themselves. He also assumes that the so-called authentic prophetic traditions are actually reliable, even though they were written down centuries after Muhammads death when none of the first generation of "believers" were present to verify whether these narrations truly came from Muhammad or not. He further assumes that the reports which narrate the views of the so-called Salaf are authentic, despite the fact that these narratives were written over hundred years (at the very least) after their deaths. He then assumes that all Muslims agree with his presuppositions when they do not, e.g. Shia Muslims do not recognize the absolute authority and authenticity of the Sunni collection of hadiths, many Muslims reject the entire hadith literature altogether and only follow the Quran etc.
He further says in the same article:
Ignoramus Shamoun is comparing apples with oranges. The reason why I accused him of appealing to authority in that situation was because I already provided evidence [sic] for that narration that he was using to be weak. Yet, instead of providing evidence to rebut it back he goes and quotes scholars without addressing my arguments. Thus, he has committed a fallacy.
When I appealed to the major commentators of the Qur'an I did so because usually Shamoun likes to quote Islamic scholars and the early Muslims to see what they thought about the Bible. So then I quoted him all the major Qur'anic commentators to show him that none of them agree with his interpretation.
First, notice the contradiction. Zawadi first stated that the reason he appealed to the consensus of Islamic commentators is because they are a source of religious authority. He now says that he did so because I appeal to them! Second, he claims that he provided evidence to back up his appeal to the majority of Islamic expositors, something he utterly fails to do here in regards to his understanding of Q. 13:23-24. Such inconsistency is typical of Zawadi.
Zawadi further argues that it is linguistically possible that angels are speaking in Q. 13:23-24 which makes it equally possible that it is the believers, not Allah, who is actually speaking in Q. 2:285. Zawadi again appeals to the consensus and their discussion of the Arabic to prove his position. The problem with this fallacious appeal to the consensus is that there is absolutely nothing in the Arabic text, nothing in the grammar, the syntax etc., which even makes it remotely possible that it is the believers, and not Allah, who are the speakers in Q. 2:285. We therefore challenge Zawadi to actually produce the evidence of these scholars so we can examine it for ourselves and see how much weight their arguments truly carry.
Zawadi does refer to ar-Razi who sources 6:93 and 39:3 to establish his case. Yet neither of these texts proves Zawadis assertion but they provide additional support for my argument that the Quran is an incoherent piece of babble which often omits words and phrases leading to chaos and confusion.
Moreover, these particular verses are not at all analogous to Q. 2:285. Here is what these passages say:
And who does greater evil than he who forges against Allah a lie, or says, 'To me it has been revealed', when naught has been revealed to him, or he who says, 'I will send down the like of what Allah has sent down'? If thou couldst only see when the evildoers are in the agonies of death, and the angels are stretching out their hands: 'Give up your souls! Today you shall be recompensed with the chastisement of humiliation for what you said untruly about God, waxing proud against His signs.' S. 6:93
Belongs not sincere religion to Allah? And those who take protectors, apart from Him -- 'We only serve them that they may bring us nigh in nearness to Allah' -- surely Allah shall judge between them touching that whereon they are at variance. Surely Allah guides not him who is a liar, unthankful. S. 39:3
It is clear from the context of these passages who the speakers are since all one has to do is locate the nearest antecedent. Yet this is quite different from what we find in Q. 2:285 since in that passage the same entity who is narrating the verse goes on to quote what the believers say by introducing their words with qaloo:
The Messenger believes in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and the believers; each one believes in God and His angels, and in His Books and His Messengers; We make no division between any one of His Messengers. They say (qaloo), 'We hear, and obey. Our Lord, grant us Thy forgiveness; unto Thee is the homecoming.' S. 2:285
As such this text is not at all similar to what we read in Q. 6:93 and 39:3. So much for Zawadis Islamic scholars and their appeal to the Arabic language.
Zawadi then proceeds with ad hominems, attacking me for not knowing Arabic (even though his Arabic comprehension is rather poor, and he is ignorant of both Biblical Hebrew and NT Greek), which is an obvious indication that he is rather upset with our responses since they serve to expose his bluster and gross inability to produce a coherent reply.
Zawadi then claims that there is nothing wrong with Q. 2:285 being a tautology where Allah says he doesnt deny the Messengership of his messengers.
He then quotes Q. 64:4 which he thinks is analogous to Q. 2:285 since it too is supposed to be a tautology:
He knows what is in the heavens and on earth; and He knows what you conceal and what you reveal: and Allah knows well the secrets of all hearts.
Again, Zawadis alleged parallel fails since one can see why the speaker highlights the extent of Allahs knowledge, to specifically show that nothing escapes him, e.g. Allah not only knows what occurs in the entire cosmos, he even knows what a person does to the point that he fully knows what s/he conceals within his/her heart. Yet to say that Allah makes no distinction in his messengers means that he doesnt negate their Messengership is an unnecessary and needless point to make since it is obvious that he doesnt do so otherwise he wouldnt have commissioned them to be his spokespersons in the first place!
Interestingly, Zawadi makes a statement (a Freudian slip perhaps?) which actually proves our point and backfires against him:
This objection doesn't seem to be too strong. What is wrong with believing that Allah is saying "we don't differentiate between any of the messengers" in order to emphasize to us that we should be doing the same? That since Allah acknowledges all the messengers He has mentioned, we must do the same. So Allah's statement is only an emphasis of this point in order for us to learn. What is wrong with this? (Emphasis ours)
That is basically what we had stated in our rebuttal, e.g. much like Allah doesnt prefer or make distinctions between his messengers neither should the Muslims prefer some above others. We then cited a narration from Muhammad where he explained how Muslims are to carry out this injunction, i.e. Muslims cannot say that one prophet is greater than another. Since according to Zawadi Allah is teaching Muslims by example here this means that his god will also refrain from preferring some prophets over others or will refuse to grant some of them greater ranks. But according to Q. 2:253 and 17:55 this is precisely what Allah has done, namely, chosen prophets over others and raised some of them in rank!
So much for Zawadis argument. Zawadi has once again failed to reconcile this gross contradiction within the Quran. Lord Jesus willing, more rebuttals to follow shortly.
Rebuttals to Bassam Zawadi
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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