The Length of God's Days
A Numerical Discrepancy?
by The Learner
One of the objections levied against the Qur'an by Mr. Jochen Katz is:

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1- How is it possible for us to be together for our time consist [only] of two days: A day of being away from each other and a day when we are stopped from meeting.

2- [I inform you of] the battle day which was the day of the unleashed sword and the spear, which was a source of great pleasure for your cousins; today, tomorrow and the day after entail things that are hidden from you [I, therefore, inform you only of events of the days gone by].

3- Time consists only of three days, these are: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

4- It is a long day in which I do not meet you; while a day in which we meet is a short one.

5- He has a day of battle, in which people are faced with the toughest of times and a day of generosity when people are blessed with bounties.

6- His life consists of two days: the day of bounty and the day of battle.

7- He has two days: the day when he is bountiful and the day when he is in the battle field; the word 'day' here means time, i.e. His life consists of two types of times.

Refutation of "What is the Koran? - 99.01"
by Dr. M S M Saifullah

There is an article published by Atlantic Monthly entitled "What is the Koran?" which seems to refute the validity of the claim Muslims make that the Quran today is as it was revealed 1400 years ago. The article questions the very crux of Islamic Belief.

Here's a good refutation of it by Dr. M S M Saifullah. Please read it and forward it to people you know so that if and when they do read the article in Atlantic Monthly they won't be carried away by disillusionment. There have also been many other good refutations of the Atlantic Monthly article, but unfortunatly they were accidentally deleted some time ago.

In Islam, seeking religious knowledge is given a high priority, whether it be the origin of the of Qur'an or compilation of the hadith or anything else. Asking questions, therefore, is a natural thing. But what is quite unnatural is doubting without sufficient knowledge about the subject itself. The article that appeared in Atlantic monthly is one such example of Muslim ignorance about the issues involving the methodology of Orientalists. A good example would be to study the use the material of Crone and Cook. It seems the writer of the article in Atlantic monthly is pretty much ignorant that it has been universally rejected.

Waines in his book 'An Introduction To Islam' says:

"The Crone-Cook theory has been almost universally rejected. the evidence offered by the authors is far too tentative and conjectural (and possibily contrdictory) to conclude that Arab-Jewish were as intimate as they would wish them to have been." [pp. 273-274]

In the book 'Discovering The Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach To a Veiled Text' we see a full chapter (Chapter 3: An Alternative Account Of The Rise Of Islam) devoted to refute the book 'Hagarism: The Making Of The Islamic World' (by Crone and Cook).

Further the issue that the origins of the Qur'an are almost 200 years after the advent of Islam is a hypothesis. This is illustrated perfectly in Wansbrough's own confession (See in the introduction of his books Qur'anic Studies and Sectrian Milieu) about the "conjectural nature" of his work and calls his analysis "strictly experimental" and the "emphatically tentative" nature of his  conclusions. It seems the author of the article in Atlantic monthly is delibrately misquoting his sources by considering them as gospel truths.

Further, he contradicts himself by showing some of the Yemeni manuscripts presumably dating from 7th century AD. What is funny is that he uses Crone-Cook-Wansbrough 's material which says that the Qur'an came into being 200 years after the advent of Islam and uses the Yemeni manuscript to show that the Qur'an was already fixed 200 years earlier. Need I elaborate more about such schizophrenic thoughts of the author? There are, of course, many issues which can easily be refuted. Anyone with a decent knowledge about Islam and orientalist literature would find the article laughable. The ignorant masses would, of course, find the article amusing/distressing.

'Abd ar-Rahmaan Robert Squires drew my attention (as well as couple of brothers the UK as well as US) to a paper that appeared recently in The Journal of the American Oriental Society. I would also like to draw an attention of so .religion.islam readership to this recent paper of The Journal of the American Oriental Society, Jan-March 1998  called "Forgotten Witness:  Evidence for the Early Codification of the Qur'an (Koran)" by Estelle Whelan. In this article she discusses the Qur'anic inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock, on Umayyad coinage, in Madinah etc. Interestingly the work of Crone and Cook as well as Wansbrough is discussed in detail. On the issue of misunderstanding by Crone and Cook of the use of the Qur'anic phrases by Muslims in the sermons, Whelans says:

"Nevertheless, the types of minor variation mentioned, juxtaposition of disparate passages, conflation, shift of person, and occasional omission of brief phrases, led Patricia Crone and Michael Cook to question the value of the mosaic inscriptions at the Dome of the Rock as evidence for the "literary form" of the text as a whole at that early date.(23) Their skepticism appears to have been engendered rather by two contemporary inscriptions on hammered copper plaques installed on the exterior faces of the lintels over the inner doors in the eastern and northern entrances respectively: "There is extensive agreement with our text in [the mosaic inscriptions] . . .; on the other hand, there is extensive deviance from our text in [the copper plaques]. . . ."(24) Closer scrutiny of the two copper plaques suggests that the question is not one of "extensive deviance"; rather, one inscription is not primarily Qur anic in character, and the other is a combination of Qur anic fragments and paraphrases that makes sense only as a manipulation of a recognized standard text. The copper plaques include, respectively, seven and four lines of the Umayyad originals; in each instance the remainder of the text, no doubt including an original foundation inscription in the name of Abd al-Malik, was replaced by an attached sheet of copper inscribed in the name of al-Ma mun - substitutions comparable to that at the end of the outer mosaic inscription.(25)"

Further she adds:

"The copper inscriptions do not appear to represent "deviations" from the current standard text; rather, they belong to a tradition of using Qur anic and other familiar phrases, paraphrases, and allusions in persuasive messages, in fact sermons, whether actual khutbahs or not.(31) Of a number of such texts two examples cited by al-Tabari should suffice to demonstrate the point.

In a sermon supposedly delivered to the people of Khunasirah in northern Syria in 101/719-20, Umar b. Abd al- Aziz included the phrase "nor will you be left aimless,"(32) a clear reference to Qur an 75:36: "Thinketh man that he will be left aimless?"(33) A more extended example, involving some of the same passages used at the Dome of the Rock, is the first part of a sermon delivered by Da ud b. Isa, governor of Makkah, in 196/811-12.(34)

"Praise be to God, Owner of Sovereignty unto whom He wills and withdraws sovereignty from whom He wills, who exalts whom He wills and abases whom He wills. In His hand is the good; He is Able to do all things" [3:26, with change from direct address to God to the descriptive third-person singular]. "I bear witness that there is no God save Him . . . there is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise" [3:18, with shift from the third-person plural to the first-person singular and concomitant omission
of references to angels and men of learning as beating witness]. "And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger, whom He sent to bring the religion, through whom He sealed the prophets" [further declaration of faith] "and whom He made a mercy for the peoples" [21:107, with shift from first-person plural to third-person singular].(35)

A narrow focus on the Qur anic text and continued efforts to establish and preserve a standard version without deviation have persisted throughout the history of Islam, but side by side with that concern there has been a tradition of drawing upon and modifying that text for a variety of rhetorical purposes. Such creative use of familiar scriptural associations was hardly unique to Islam, and indeed it would be more surprising if no such tradition had developed. The tradition was, however, dependent upon
recognition of the text by the listeners, or readers - a strong indication that the Qur an was already the common property of the community in the last decade of the seventh century. The inscriptions at the Dome of the Rock should not be viewed as evidence of a precise adherence to or deviation from the "literary form" of the Qur anic text; rather they are little sermons or parts of a single sermon addressed to an audience that could be expected to understand the allusions and abbreviated references by which Abd al-Malik's particular message was conveyed.(36) They thus appear at the beginning of a long tradition of creative use of the Qur anic text for polemical purposes. The brief Qur anic passages on coins issued from the time of Abd al-Malik's reform(37) in 77/697 to the end of the dynasty in 132/750 are additional examples of such use; these passages include, in addition to the shahadah, verses 112:1-3 (or 4) complete (except for the initial basmalah and the introductory word "say") and part of 9:33, with slight variations in the reading of the latter, so that it makes sense by itself: "He sent him with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion. . . ." In parallel to the contemporary inscriptions at the Dome of the Rock these extracts are clearly intended to declare the primacy of the new religion of Islam over Christianity, in particular."

So, that is enough to refute the issue of Crone and Cook as well as Wansbrough. This essentiallay shows how ignorant are the Orientalists when it comes to the use of Qur'anic ayahs in the sermons and Khutbahs. Further I would also like a digress a bit here to show how great is the knowledge of specialists in Arabic in the West. Again this article was brought to my attention by 'Abd ar-Rahmaan Robert Squires last week and it appeared in 'The Muslim World' (April 1998, Published by Hartford  Theological Seminary) and is called 'Arabic and the West' by Marwan M Obeidat.

"I begin by quoting A.L. Tibawi: "But what Arabic is studied or taught [in the West] by specialists in Arabic?"17 Tibawi rather sarcastically answers: It has long been an academic scandal that the professor [i. e., the specialist] of Arabic teaches [and at length knows] no Arabic and neglects to write on Arabic subjects, is moreover never seen to write or heard to speak Arabic, and yet engages in theological and political [and linguistic] controversy . . .ls That there are quasi-Arabists whose knowledge of Arabic is insufficient and who do not have the training to teach the language adequately and dispassionately is indeed quite likely. But, as Tibawi is suggesting here, they engage in cultural controversy-linguistic and otherwise: In 1948 a Professor of Arabic in the University of London was going to Damascus and desired to give a speech in Arabic there, and requested my assistance for translating it from English.... The Professor's translation had to be discarded and I started from scratch, both
translating and editing. For example, I advised the omission of a rash reference to the events of 1860 as inappropriate in Damascus (! ) The Professor and I went over the English original and my translation and editing and he enthusiastically approved all that I did.... A few years later he began preparing a translation of the S5J-dh [i. e., the life] of the Prophet. 19 The poor quality is perhaps less puzzling than his later decision to undertake a translation of the life of the Prophet that contained even "slips in English [!]" 20

Equally embarrassing, is another case. Tibawi adds: In 1960 I met at Harvard a visiting scholar from the University California. He told me he was working on an edition and translation of a unique Budleian Arabic manuscript by a Damascene author concerned with the reign of the Mamluk Sultan Barquq. One day he asked me whether I could help him to understand a sentence in which the key word was written />ef:/aviv- z/in ( - the eye) preceded by the name of Tamerlane. After a glance I told the enquirer that there was an orthographical mistake by the omission of another /ain. the key word should read alla/-/avio (the accursed). I saw immediate signs of subdued humilation in his face.zl In the examination of more recent studies and analyses of Arabic, it is important to place them within the ideological context of Orientalism. In general, recent studies of Arabic in the West demonstrate a lack of scholarship on the one hand, and a lack of humility on the other. They, like their antecendents, still treat the Arabs, Arabic, Arab history and culture according to Western categories that produced in the past, and continue to produce, distorted and false interpretations of all that is related to Arabic and Islam.

So, much for the Arabic scholarship of Orientalists! Coming back to the original issue....

The article on the Qur'an that appeared in Atlantic monthly also quotes the work for Nevo in Negev desert. It seems that the author that article is pretty much ignorant of where the Negev desert is and where Islam originated. Further on the issue of the inscription in Negev raised by Nevo in "Towards a Prehistory of Islam," Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 17 [1994]: 108-41, Whelan comments in the reference section:

"In a recent article Y. D. Nevo ("Towards a Prehistory of Islam," Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 17 [1994]: 108-41) has attempted to confirm the interval suggested by Wansbrough by tracing the gradual evolution of rock-cut inscriptions in the Negev from "basic" (pre-Islamic) to "Muhammadan" to "Muslim" religious texts. Aside from the fact that these terms are not clearly defined, Professor Donner has noted (personal communication) that Nevo's argument can be taken equally well to support the traditional view that early Islam and the Qur anic text evolved primarily in al-Madinah and other urban centers, to which the Negev was entirely peripheral. The author is grateful to Professor Donner for calling this article to her attention."

It is worthwhile pointing out that 'Abdurraheem Green has mentioned precisely the above point in his debate with Joseph Smith.

"As far as the so called extensive research of Yehuda Nevo, which Smith claims shows that there are no inscriptions which contain the title of Prophethood, then it is known by anyone who is familiar with the work of Yehuda (Smith obviously isn't one of them) that his research was restricted to a very small section of the Negev desert some 500-600km away from Makkah. Nevo's research also conveniently excluded any inscriptions found in the Arabian peninsula This already means that his research is inconclusive.

Even if we look at Nevo's research analytically we find nothing. Some rock inscriptions in some far-off desert, written by some anonymous people that do not mention the Prophethood of Muhammed. Why would we expect someone who doesn't accept the Prophethood of Muhammed to refer to him as a Prophet? Do we refer to Smith as an expert on Islamic History, just because his cronies do?

Nevo's research proves absolutely nothing. "

This can be seen at:

One can  undertake almost a point to point refutation of this ridiculous article in Atlantic monthly.

Further on the issue of whether the Qur'an should be re-interpreted, it is pretty clear that people who talk about such things are either unclear what Islam means. We do not need re-interpretation of the Qur'an from anyone. The Prophet(P) was the vehicle of revelation and interpretation of the Qur'an and is a book which says that it is explained. So, there is no point falling for catchy phrases like re-interpretation and coming out of "dark ages". Surprisingly, during the advent of Islam important conquests and furthering of knowledge took place when the society adhered to the Qur'an and Sunnah. Now that the Muslims have gone away from the Qur'an and Sunnah, they are blaming the Qur'an and Sunnah for their slip in "dark ages". SubhanAllah! What collossal ignorance!

My advice to the readers is that they should seek knowledge. Read, read and read!

Dr. M S M Saifullah

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