National Geographic made a documentary about the Holy Qur’an and gave it the title ‘Inside Koran’. Following is my brief response to various issues raised therein. Some of the issues I have dealt with already so I will only give links to my earlier articles. And on some issues I will simply give links to other sites. That is the only way to deal with so many red herrings thrown in a hurry.
Here are the links to its parts as available on the youtube. My response shall be part wise in the same sequence.
Not to say that every single word in this documentary is false but it has many points that are not factual. Most certainly they need to be refuted.
I have not responded to some issues that relate to varying tastes among Muslims or differences among the Shiites and Sunnis.
1- When was the Qur’an put into written record?
The documentary says it was done some 20 years after the death of the Prophet (PBUH). That isn't actually true. Qur'an was written down well during the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH) and compiled just within 2 years of his death. 20 years is far too much of exaggeration!
2- Women’ right to education:
They make a point about women not allowed the right to seek education. But this is fundamentally a trouble with the people not the Qur'an. May be it was a reference to what is said about Taliban. I'll suggest people to read Abidullah Jan's "Afghanistan, Genesis of the Final Crusade" Chapter 6 in which he shows that Taliban were not against the idea of education.
3- Hijab came from ‘nowhere’ in 70s?
The lady interviewed tends to give the impression as if Hijab came from no-where. I think it just came on streets from the long forgotten books. I love the growing trend of coming towards religion in the Muslim youth.
4- Face covering predates the Prophet’s time?
I wish the Imam who said this in the documentary could share some evidence. Perhaps in a running interview it wasn’t possible. If someone agrees to this can he/she share? But even if we have, what will it prove? Hardly anything! Our practices and ideals come from what is reported from the Prophet (PBUH). If he ordained something then it is a must no matter if it was earlier practiced by some people or not. Simple!
5- Was Hijab only for the Prophet’s (PBUH) wives?
The old lady just made a 'classical' comment.
The verse from Surah Nur goes as;
“And say to the believing women (qul lil-mo'minaat) that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; ...” (24:31)
Verse from Surah Ahzab is;
"O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (33:59)
Her daughter got the things right.
6- True explanation of Qur’an 4:34 ‘Men are guardians of women.’
On this issue the film maker gives in to his prejudices once again. For the rightful explanation see THIS.
7- Qur’an 4: 34 and wife beating:
This is an oft-raised issue. You find my response HERE.
8- Qur’an 2:187, Why are women called tilth for men?
Although lady from Al-Azhar answered about it, HERE is my response.
9- Female circumcision:
It is not obligatory in Islam though recommended if it causes no harm. For scholarly view see;
10- Is New Testament the Qur’anic Injil?
British mosque Imam makes a mistake. A hint to Islamic position about Jewish/Christian scriptures is found HERE.
11- Peace and violence in equal measure in Qur’an?
As said gives a wrong impression! Otherwise, yes indeed we are to be tolerant to those who are tolerant and respectful and get back hard on those who are violent and trigger-happy.
Nothing worthy to find an academic response in this part! It is only about keeping your eyes and ears open and mind free of prejudices.
12- Are Muslims killing Muslim in Iraq?
May be, through arrangements like the following;
Again nothing worthy to be given a dedicated response!
13- Insertions into translations of Surah 1 and 8 by Saudis:
Here are the translations referred to and the words questioned underlined;
a- ‘The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace , not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).’ (1:7)
References to Jews and the Christians are not from the translators’ minds but are based on the Hadith (traditions from the Prophet PBUH) the prime source of Qur’anic exegesis. See Jami’ Tirmidhi, Hadith 2954. Authenticated by Albani
b- ‘And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allâh and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allâh does know. And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allâh shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.’ (8: 60)
Mention of modern weaponry is only rational. May be they want us to stick to '1400 years old' understanding of this verse so that we be easy targets for them. I wish translators could add NUKES too!
14- San’a Texts and findings of Mr. Puin:
A detailed analysis of the claims is given by Muhammad Mustafa Azami in his book. "History of the Quranic Text from Revelation to Compilation". See p.314-318. It also gives a list of available early manuscripts. All this belies the claims of Orientalists.
Another interesting writing on the issue HERE!
15- Oldest extant Qur’an dates back to?
Documentary claims it dates back to 70 A.H. Reality of the claim is exposed in the same book "History of the Quranic Text from Revelation to Compilation" pp.316-7
16- Absence of Vowels caused variances in recitals and made the Qur’anic text unstable?
That is what the documentary claims and this is nothing more than a lie.
Muslims have always had three rules about how to handle difference possible rendering issue for the lack of vowels.
a- Reading must have a unbroken chain back to the Prophet (PBUH). It ought to have evidence from the Prophet to be recited like that.
b- It must conform to Uthmanic manuscripts.
c- Should be correct as per Arabic grammar
these three rules together establish whole thing for us.
In Quran 1: 4 the word ملك can be read in two ways. ‘Malik’ with short vowel between M and L. It means 'King' or 'Maalik' with a long vowel which means "owner". It is proved from the Prophet (PBUH) to read it both ways.
The same word is used in Qur'an 3:26 but it cannot be read ‘Malik’ with short vowel but has to be read ‘maalik’ for this is the only way it is proved from the Prophet (PBUH).
So in the light of the three rules mentioned above and as proved from the example there is no question of Quran becoming an object of controversy. For details see p.155-159 of Musafa Azami's book earlier referenced.
17- Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Qur’an by Luxenberg:
The author is so brave and honest that he could not even give his own name. The following review will help understand a lot about the actual worth of the work.
Also find refutation of his lies and opinions of western scholars about his 'research' HERE.
18- Foreign words in the Qur’an:
Yes there are some! But how does that matter? As said in the video Muslims have always accepted this. Hamza Tzortzis on this issue, HERE.
It is just a sort of summary of what preceded.
INDEED ALLAH KNOWS THE BEST!