بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين
Since the very first day Islam has been attacked fruitlessly. Thousands and thousands of books, articles and pamphlets have been written against it. One such attack that has been relatively new is the claim of plagiarism of 18th chapter of the Qur’an, Surah Kahf (The Cave), by Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah.
Criticism on Surah 18
While reading the anti-Islamic arguments and the Muslim clarifications, it must be kept in mind that Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- was unlettered i.e. he was not able to read or write.
1. The Surah attacks Christianity
The Surah, in the beginning, criticizes those who say God has a son by these words “…And to warn those who say: Allah has chosen a son…” However, when one goes through the Old Testament and the Final Testament (i.e. the Qur’an), there appears to be not much difference on the issue of God having a son; both the scriptures strictly deny such a belief. Coming to this issue from the Old Testament to the New Testament to the Final Testament, one finds the New Testament to be the odd one out giving hints and gestures of Greek and Roman paganism. However, even the New Testament attacks the concept of God having a son until Paul had taken over.
2. The Surah is not in agreement with Islamic notion of gradual revelation
While the opponents of the Qur’an argue that Surah 18 does not confirm to the norm of gradual revelationas found elsewhere in the Qur’an, they, at the same time,mock the concept of gradual revelation.We know from the Qur’an that it (the Qur’an) was initially revealed in Ramadanand completed in Dhul Hajjover a period of around 23 years. The Qur’an itself answers this question in 25:32:
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْلَا نُزِّلَ عَلَيْهِ الْقُرْآنُ جُمْلَةً وَاحِدَةً كَذَلِكَ لِنُثَبِّتَ بِهِ فُؤَادَكَ وَرَتَّلْنَاهُ تَرْتِيلًا
And those who disbelieve say, “Why was the Qur’an not revealed to him all at once?” Thus [it is] that We may strengthen thereby your heart. And We have spaced it distinctly.
Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- was called the walking Qur’an by his wife lady Aisha –may Allah be pleased with her. This means that whatever is stated in the Qur’an such as kindness towards women, prayers and charity, love and respect for poor, needy, orphans etc. can all be found in the life of Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- i.e. he was a living example of what the Qur’an taught.
Another purpose of gradual revelation was to challenge such opponents of the Qur’an. The Noble Qur’an challenges the disbelievers to produce a Surah like it or even a verse like what can be found in the Qur’an. This was such a mighty challenge and made so convenient for theenemies of Islam that all possible excuses were eliminated due to gradual revelation process. An entire book revealed in one instance would have found several excuses against this challenge of the Qur’an.
وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُواْ شُهَدَاءكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a sūrah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful.
Gradual revelation made it easier for the believers to understand and memorize the Qur’an. Allah has promised to safeguard the Qur’an and this way of revelation contributed to the safeguarding of the Qur’an from any form of corruption or alteration. The Qur’an of today is exactly the same as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah.
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the reminder and indeed, We will be its guardian.”
There are numerous other reasons behind the process of gradual revelation but these are sufficient for our topic at hand and to silence the mocking of the enemies of Islam.
Moreover,the style of Qur’an has been unique for the different era of revelation. The period under which this Surah was revealed was unique in its own way and hence the style of revelation was also unique. Maulana Maududi states in the introduction to the tafsir of this Surah:
This is the first of those Surahs which were sent down in the third stage of Prophethood at Makkah. We have already divided the life of the Holy Prophet at Makkah into four stages in the Introduction to Chapter VI. According to that division the third stage lasted from the fifth to the tenth year of Prophethood. What distinguishes this stage from the second and the fourth stages is this. During the second stage the Quraish mainly resorted to ridiculing, scoffing, threatening, tempting, raising objections and making false propaganda against the Holy Prophet and his followers in order to suppress the Islamic Movement. But during the third stage they employed the weapons of persecution, man handling and economic pressure for the same purpose. So much so that a large number of the Muslims had to emigrate from Arabia to Habash, and those who remained behind were besieged in Shi'b Abi Talib along with the Holy Prophet and his family. To add to their misery, a complete social and economic boycott was applied against them. The only redeeming feature was that there were two personalities, Abu Talib and Hadrat Khadijah, whose personal influence had been conducive to the support of two great families of the Quraish. However, when in the tenth year of Prophethood these two persons died, the fourth stage began with such revere persecutions as forced the Holy Prophet and all his Companions to emigrate from Makkah.
It appears from the theme of the Surah that it was revealed at the beginning of the third stage when in spite of persecutions and opposition, migration to Habash had not yet taken place. That is why the story of "Ashab-i-Kahf" (the Sleepers of the Cave) has been related to comfort and encourage the persecuted Muslims and to show them how the righteous people have been saving their Faith in the past.
From this, we know that the era of the revelation of this Surah was unique and hence the style of the Surah is also unique.
Another issue over which the opponents of the Qur’an mock it is the repetition of some events a number of times. Isn’t it ironic that such mockery comes from people who have somewhat similar style in their own books?Instead of diving into this sea of knowledge, we shall brief the readers here. What is even more ironic is that the claimant of plagiarism for Surah 18 quotes non-Muslims who have a clear bias against Islam and have dedicated their lives to write against Islam. He quotes them while claiming they are “scholars”and these “scholars” claim that Qur’an was intended to be memorized by illiterate and uneducated people. These “scholars”seem to be completely unaware about a number of things:
- Qur’an claims to be for all mankind
It appears that the “scholars”quoted by the claimant of plagiarism are either imposters or racist or both. If anyone has any other justification in their defense, then please enlighten us.
Another shoddy “scholar” chosen by the claimant for plagiarism for Surah 18 mentions Khidr –peace be upon him- as the Prophet Jethro clearly indicating the level of “scholars” he has chosen to back up his arguments. According to Jewish Rabbis, the person closest to the Islamic Khidr is Prophet Elijah –peace be upon him. They base their reasons as follows:
There is a Midrash about the prophet Elijah –peace be upon him- and Rabbi Joshua ben Levi who lived in the land of Israel of the first half of the third century which parallels the Qur'anic account concerning Khidr and Moses –peace be upon them. The accounts of Khidr –peace be upon- constantly wandering and dressing in various garbs while performing tasks to support believers parallels the Jewish concept of Elijah –peace be upon him. Thus from a Rabbinic point of view, Khidr –peace be upon him- is generally assumed that to be the same as the Prophet Elijah –peace be upon him. Besides, Elijah –peace be upon him- is also considered to be called Pinchaswho like Khidr, was a companion of Moses –peace be upon them.
3. The events in Surah 18 have not been repeated elsewhere
When the Qur’an mentions different events, it does not discuss them from A to Z and hence when it is repeated elsewhere, different parts are touched along with the repetition. However, in Surah 18, the entire story is mentioned because of the need of the revelation. The 12th chapter Surah Yusuf (Joseph) is a similar example which is complete in one place without repetition.For each repetition, the purpose must be separately understood. To ask that why such and such has not been repeated is simply ignoring the understanding and wisdom behind each repetition. For example, in the story of Prophet Moosa (Moses) –peace be upon him- some elements of his life like his marriage have not been repeated. If the Qur’an is not taken as a storybook, then such questions would never ariseand keeping this in mind, one arrives at the conclusion that some stories have points mentioned that are of lesser value and hence mentioned once like marriage whereas others where deep lessons have been taught, have been repeated more than once.It must be repeated that understanding wisdom behind repetitionis very important after which no questions should remain in an unbiased person’s mind. Even those who argue that their criticisms prove that Surah 18 had been plagiarized from a written source, even though the Prophet could not read or write, have been clarified on their stance in this section and the proceeding section.
4. The Surah 18 does not follow gradual revelation rule
To say that Surah 18 is different from other Surahs of the Qur’an based on the style of revelation would be a misinformed statement.As has been mentioned that the Qur’an was revealed over a period of 23 years and on several occasions verses were revealed as and when required.When the need for prohibition of alcohol arose, verse pertaining to its prohibition was revealed. To quote another example, a Christian delegation from Najran had visited the Prophet –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- verses were revealed on him pertaining to the requirement at the time.Hence the purpose and scenario behind the revelation should be considered while deciding whether Surah 18 is an exception to the rule.
Muhammad bin Ishaq mentioned the reason why this Surah was revealed.
He said that Ibn `Abbas said: "The Quraysh sent An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`it to the Jewish rabbis in Al-Madinah, and told them: `Ask them (the rabbis) about Muhammad, and describe him to them, and tell them what he is saying. They are the people of the first Book, and they have more knowledge of the Prophets than we do.' So they set out and when they reached Al-Madinah, they asked the Jewish rabbis about the Messenger of Allah . They described him to them and told them some of what he had said. They said, `You are the people of the Tawrah and we have come to you so that you can tell us about this companion of ours.' They (the rabbis) said, `Ask him about three things which we will tell you to ask, and if he answers them then he is a Prophet who has been sent (by Allah); if he does not, then he is saying things that are not true, in which case how you will deal with him will be up to you. Ask him about some young men in ancient times, what was their story For theirs is a strange and wondrous tale. Ask him about a man who travelled a great deal and reached the east and the west of the earth. What was his story And ask him about the Ruh (soul or spirit) -- what is it If he tells you about these things, then he is a Prophet, so follow him, but if he does not tell you, then he is a man who is making things up, so deal with him as you see fit.' So An-Nadr and `Uqbah left and came back to the Quraysh, and said: `O people of Quraysh, we have come to you with a decisive solution which will put an end to the problem between you and Muhammad. The Jewish rabbis told us to ask him about some matters,' and they told the Quraysh what they were. Then they came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Muhammad, tell us,' and they asked him about the things they had been told to ask.
As mentioned before, many times verses were revealed when the need arose and in this situation, the need arose for the whole chapter to be revealed all together. The request for knowledge mentioned in Surah 18 was to test the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- to which Allah silenced the critics.This clearly shows that if the knowledge of these events and personalities had been revealed piece by piece, the unbelievers would have claimed that Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- is not a Prophet of Allah and he would have failed the test according to them and so Allah supported the Prophet–on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- in this test of theirs.
5. Background of revelation of this Surah
- The Surah only mentions that the story ofking Dhul-Qarnayn was revealed as a response to the questions posed by the Jewish Rabbis and does not state that the story of the people of the cave was also a response to the questions posed:
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَن ذِي الْقَرْنَيْن
And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about Dhul-Qarnayn…
This is an incorrect conclusion derived from partial reading. It is customary among Arabs to mention
one of two opposites only, without mentioning the other, but nonetheless alluding to it through mentioning the first. Similarly, applying the same reasoning to this verse, one finds that the questioners have been addressed. The words And they ask youindicating that they had asked about other matters previously mentioned.
Moreover, the same Surah mentions in verse 4 as follows:
وَيُنذِرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا
And to warn those who say, "Allah has taken a son."
Upon initial reading it may appear that the people discussed by this verse are Christians but the fact is that some of the Jews of Arabia had taken Prophet Uzair (Ezra) –peace be upon him- as son of God as well. The verse, therefore, addresses both those Jews and the Christians as well as any other pagan who believes God has or can have a son:
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللّهِ وَقَالَتْ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللّهِ
The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah"; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah."
- Encounter of Prophet Moosa –peace be upon him- had not been asked by the Jews, then why was this revealed?
We find numerous examples of questions of people and revelation as a result of these questions. These revelations become a part of the chapters of the Qur’an. In those same chapters, not everything is a response to questions. Therefore, to say that this Surah must entirely be question oriented is a weak argument. Moreover, not being entirely response oriented is also evidence against the allegation of Surah 18 notbeing in agreement with Islamic notion of gradual revelation and not being upon the rules of repetition.
- Why is the answer to the third question found in another chapter?
Muslim scholars differ as to whether the third question regarding the Ruh was revealed in Makkah or Madina or even re-revealed in Madina. Tafsir Ibn Kathir states regarding this verse:
Al-Bukhari recorded in his Tafsir of this Ayah that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "While I was walking with the Prophet on a farm, and he was resting on a palm-leaf stalk, some Jews passed by. Some of them said to the others, `Ask him about the Ruh.' Some of them said, `What urges you to ask him about that' Others said, `Do not ask him, lest he gives you a reply which you do not like.' But they said, `Ask him.' So they asked him about the Ruh. The Prophet kept quiet and did not give them an answer, and I knew that he was receiving revelation, so I stayed where I was. When the revelation was complete, the Prophet said:And they ask you concerning the Ruh(the spirit). Say: "The Ruh (the spirit) is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord...'' This context would seem to imply that this Ayah was revealed in Al-Madinah, and that it was revealed when the Jews asked him this question in Al-Madinah, although the entire Surah was revealed in Makkah. This may be answered with the suggestion that this Ayah may have been revealed to him in Al-Madinah a second time, after having previously been revealed in Makkah, or that he was divinely inspired to respond to their question with a previously-revealed Ayah, namely the Ayah in question.
Whether the verse was re-revealed or this third question was not answered in Makkah and responded to in Madina does not add any weight to the plagiarism argument. For further reading as to why Surahs have been organized in a different order to the order of revelation refer here.
- How did the Jews know the answers to these questions?
Without listening to the proper clarification to this question, the opponents of the Qur’an reach to the following conclusion which they consider the only conclusion:
The stories of the sleepers and Dhul-Qarnayn were known by the People of the Scripture living in Mohammad’s era.
The “only conclusion” ignores many aspects to the issue. Just like Muslims have differences of opinion regarding the identity of Dhul-Qarnayn, the Jews are also divided on his identity. Some outright deny the existence of any such king while the other two groups are divided between Alexander the Macedonian and Persian King Cyrus.
Those in favour of Alexander the Macedonian argue that he played an enormous role in Arabia for a number of reasons and not just because of his military conquests. Reasons for why a group of Jews believe Dhul-Qarnayn to be Alexander the Macedonian are discussed later below.
The other group identifying King Cyrus as king Dhul-Qarnayn hasitsown reasons. It is clear that the Jews were/are divided on his identity and hence it would be no surprise that they ask about the matter to a man claiming to be a prophet. They would have analyzed the answers, investigated whether the answer clarifies doubts and suit the greatness of revelation and then decided accordingly because they would know that Prophets and scriptures clarify the doubts of the people.
إِنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَقُصُّ عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَكْثَرَ الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ
Indeed, this Qur’an relates to the Children of Israel most of that over which they disagree.
Qur’an clarifies the issues over which they had doubts. However, one may argue that the identity of Dhul-Qarnayn is still a mystery and therefore, doubts still exist. The doubts of Jews over the events and incidents were made clear by the Qur’an and upon impartial study, they would have surely arrived at the accurate description of the said person but being impartial and open to knowledge is the key as Qur’an also mentions:
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ فَهَدَى اللّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لِمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ وَاللّهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path.
It would be futile to argue that Allah should have clearly mentioned the name of Dhul-Qarnayn because those seeking differences due to jealousy and hatred would not cease at any instance. Such people may develop further pointless queries and keep on arguing; this is an endless cycle.
6. Identity of king Dhul-Qarnayn
The fallacy of the claim that Surah 18 of the Qur’an has been plagiarized is based on one of theassumptions that Dhul-Qarnayn was Alexander the Macedonian. If this base is clarified, then the entire allegation of plagiarism turns to dust. The reason being that the claimant of plagiarism claims thatthe Qur’an wanted to represent the three major religions of the world i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islamwith these three stories i.e. Khidr –peace be upon him-,people of the cave andDhul-Qarnayn respectively. Regarding the linking of Dhul-Qarnayn to Islam, it is claimed:
Alexander the Great in this story corresponded to Mohammad himself as Mohammad claimed to be the only messenger of Allah sent on a universal mission whilst Alexander’s reign stood for the dreamed victory and golden age of Islam.
First and foremost, it must be made clear to the claimantthat Dhul-Qarnayn has not been mentioned as a Prophet either by the Qur’an or by Hadith. Even the earliest generations and scholars as well as commentaries of the Qur’an do not mention that he was a Prophet of Allah. Therefore, if the basis used by the claimant rests on a false assumption, then how can the remaining argument be of any worth? This false assumption has been used by the claimant to build on his entire criticism which then turns into wild linking with books that were banned from the Bible by Constantine and other pagans with roots of Greek and Roman beliefs.Even though the claimant has been exposed for his lack of knowledge and research, we shall discuss his findings derived from this false basis and further expose the lack of research and intellectual dishonesty while linking the story of the Qur’an with false deductions derived from the banned books.
Let us take a look at what Islamic books state regarding Dhul-Qarnayn and Alexander. Imam Bukhari in his book, “Stories of the Prophets”, mentioned the story of Dhul-Qarnayn before that of Prophet Ibrahim –peace be upon him- and upon its commentary, Hafiz Ibn Hajrstates as follows:
The narrator has mentioned theincident of Dhul-Qarnayn before the mentioning of Ibrahim –peace be upon him- so that he may weaken the argument of those who call Alexander the Greek as Dhul-Qarnayn.
This simple statement authenticated by both Imam Bukhari and Hafiz Ibn Hajr nullify the entire base of the plagiarism claim and also nullifies the argument that Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- wanted to portray himself as same as Alexander the Macedonian (in metaphorical sense).
One should not base arguments here upon the sequence that such story has been mentioned first and hence this should refer to Judaism, the second to Christianity and third for Islam. The sequence, their reasons and wisdom has already been explained above and hence judging the Qur’an from Biblical standards is not at all a wise thing to do.
Furthermore, Hafiz Ibn Hajrmentions three reasons to prove that Alexander the Macedonian cannot be Dhul-Qarnayn. He also states the reason why such a misunderstanding had arisen. He mentions that those who had taken Alexander to be Dhul-Qarnayn had been misinformed due to a narration by al-Tabari in his tafsir and by Muhammad bin Rabee’ Jaizi in his “Book of the companions” where Dhul-Qarnayn has been mentioned as Roman and founder of Alexandria. He states that these narrations are of the weak and unreliable category.
Even Hafiz Ibn Kathir, mentions a number of narrations concerning the name of Dhul-Qarnayn. He mentions that there are narrations mentioning Dhul-Qarnayn’s name as Alexander but also states at the same time that some people had confused him with Alexander the son of Phillip (the Greek) who was the founder of Alexandria whereas Dhul-Qarnayn lived more than a thousand years before Alexander the Greek. Imam Razi is also of the opinion that Dhul-Qarnayn’s name was Alexander but he mentions that Alexander the Greek was a disbeliever and is therefore, not the same Alexander.Further reasons why Alexander the Greek is not the Dhul-Qarnayn of the Qur’an refer here.
7. Criticism on the story of Khidr
This story promotes blind faith and warning to Jews about questioning the Prophet
There are some crooked sects among Muslims that make a similar claim and follow it passionately. They state that every person must keep a learned guide just like Prophet Moosa had a learned guide Khidr –peace be upon them. The relation between the guide and the follower should be the same as the two great prophets. In other words, you cannot ask any question. The follower may find his guide drinking or womanizing but he must understand that there is “hidden wisdom” behind it. Muslims not holding such deviant beliefs mock such groups. What the claimant of plagiarism has done is that he has taken the beliefs of these crooked sects and applied it on proper Islam. The claimant argues that this story (of Prophets Moosa and Khidr –peace be upon them) promotes such a belief system and warns the Jews against asking questions to Prophet Muhammad–on him be the peace and blessings of Allah while completely ignoring the fact that orthodox Muslims consider such a belief as nothing more than a joke. The Qur’an itself clarifies that asking unnecessary questionsis an undesired thing while also stating that if such questions are indeed asked while revelation actually takes place, then answers to them would be made aware:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَسْأَلُواْ عَنْ أَشْيَاء إِن تُبْدَ لَكُمْ تَسُؤْكُمْ وَإِن تَسْأَلُواْ عَنْهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ الْقُرْآنُ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ عَفَا اللّهُ عَنْهَا وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ
O you who have believed, do not ask about things which, if they are shown to you, will distress you. But if you ask about them while the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be shown to you. Allah has pardoned that which is past; and Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.
This story is similar to Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land
It is argued that the meeting of Prophet Moosa and Khidr –peace be upon them- in the Qur’an is similar to the account of the children of Israel escaping Pharaoh from Egypt and hence appears to be copied from there with slight modifications. Those claiming plagiarism for Surah 18 state:
Surprisingly, Moses and his wise friend in Surah 18 try to escape a mighty figure chasing them on the seawith the aim of plundering the ship, and Moses’ friend rescues the ship and the passengers by simply opening a hole therein.Moses complains about his friend’s weird action and even accuses him of trying to drown the people on board (verses 71 and 79).
The parts with emphasis expose the understanding, knowledge and research of the claimant of plagiarism. For start, there was no mighty figure chasing Prophets Moosa and Khidr –peace be upon him. They were simply travelling when they took a ride from some fishermen in their boat. Khidr –peace be upon him- had scratched the boat because there was a tyrant ruler on the other side of the river (not chasing anyone) who used to capture good boats and hence the scratching made it appear to be defected and saved the poor fishermen from being robbed of their boat.
فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّى إِذَا رَكِبَا فِي السَّفِينَةِ خَرَقَهَا قَالَ أَخَرَقْتَهَا لِتُغْرِقَ أَهْلَهَا لَقَدْ جِئْتَ شَيْئًا إِمْرًا
So they both proceeded: until, when they were in the boat, he scuttled it. Said Moses: "Hast thou scuttled it in order to drown those in it? Truly a strange thing hast thou done!"
The reason for damaging the boat is as follows:
أَمَّا السَّفِينَةُ فَكَانَتْ لِمَسَاكِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ فِي الْبَحْرِ فَأَرَدتُّ أَنْ أَعِيبَهَا وَكَانَ وَرَاءهُم مَّلِكٌ يَأْخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِينَةٍ غَصْبًا
“As for the ship, it belongs to some poor folks who operate it in the sea. I sought to make it defective; a king nearby, seizes all the (defect-free) ships forcibly.”
The subject matter of the story is the wisdom of the wise friend of Prophet Moosa –peace be upon him- in terms of what appears to be evil to plain sight has hidden wisdom behind it. Perhaps those claiming plagiarism failed to grasp the wisdom and the message behind the story and simply sought a fairytale like scenario letting their imagination run wild. Perhaps it is due to the fact that they find unicorns and other tales and fables in their books that they turn the Qur’an into metaphors as well.
As for the second incident in the story of Prophets Moosa and Khidr –peace be upon them- it is alleged that this story (of slaying of the boy) is similar to the slaying of the Israelis of their own people who had taken the golden calf as a god. This argument has been put forward even though it is clear that the Qur’an mentions the golden calf incident separately. To claim that one incident mentioned separately has been modified elsewhere sounds a bit farfetched. A young boy had been put to death because he would have turned into a disbeliever and caused immense trouble to his parents is somewhat similar to the Biblical account of “Do not leave alive anything that breathes"or Kill every maleamong the little ones but only less brutal. If the Biblical account is to be taken as true, then it could be due to the same reason i.e. to prevent future sinning generations. If at all any link of plagiarism had to be established, this would have been a better option for enemies of the Qur’an even though this would have required a lot of imagination and twisting as well.
Another absurd linking that has been done is the third story where both Prophets Moosa and Khidr –peace be upon them- enter a town who refuse any sort of hospitality to them and while they leave the town, they rectify a wall under which had been buried treasure of two orphan boys.
فَانطَلَقَا حَتَّى إِذَا أَتَيَا أَهْلَ قَرْيَةٍ اسْتَطْعَمَا أَهْلَهَا فَأَبَوْا أَن يُضَيِّفُوهُمَا فَوَجَدَا فِيهَا جِدَارًا يُرِيدُ أَنْ يَنقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ قَالَ لَوْ شِئْتَ لَاتَّخَذْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا
So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so al-Khidhr restored it. [Moses] said, "If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment."
وَأَمَّا الْجِدَارُ فَكَانَ لِغُلَامَيْنِ يَتِيمَيْنِ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ وَكَانَ تَحْتَهُ كَنزٌ لَّهُمَا وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَالِحًا فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَنْ يَبْلُغَا أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسْتَخْرِجَا كَنزَهُمَا رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ وَمَا فَعَلْتُهُ عَنْ أَمْرِي ذَلِكَ تَأْوِيلُ مَا لَمْ تَسْطِع عَّلَيْهِ صَبْرًا
And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience."
Enemies of the Qur’an claim that this story sounds similar to what has been narrated in Joshua 2 and Joshua 6 because of the word “wall” appearing in both. Other attempts to link them have been made such as looking for a common theme but they do not make sense in any way. Perhaps a person who has never read the book of Joshua would readily accept such assumptions. The Qur’anic account has been narrated above, whereas the story of Joshua recalls the invasion and subsequent destruction and annihilation of a town and all of its inhabitants except a prostitute and her family. Perhaps the only way to make them appear to be common is to open a search engine and look for the word “wall” and link it with dishonesty. The walls that the book of Joshua discusses are the borders of the city that prevent intruders from entering. Upon attacking the city, Israelis had destroyed the wall or fort. Now how can any sane person claim that the story of the Qur’an has hints to the story in the Bible? Can any rational mind claim plagiarism in any way?
8. People of the cave
Before stating the questions, criticisms and explanations relating to the people of the cave, it must be mentioned that the claimant of plagiarism considers this story as “an obsession with monotheism” of Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah. Such mockery of monotheism only point towards the Greek and Roman pagan roots of the claimant.
Why did the Jews ask about a group of Christians?
This is a question that has varying opinions among the Muslims as well. Ibn Kathir quotes his own opinion that the people of the cave were people who lived before the Messenger Eisa –peace be upon him- altogether.
It has been mentioned that they were followers of the religion of Al-Masih `Isa, `Isa bin Maryam, but Allah knows best.
It seems that they lived before the time of Christianity altogether, because if they had been Christians, the Jewish rabbis would not have cared about preserving because of their differences. We have mentioned above the report from Ibn Abbas that the Quraysh sent a message to the Jewish rabbis in Al-Madinah to ask them for things with which they could test the Messenger of Allah, and they told them to ask him about these young men, and about Dhul-Qarnayn (the man who traveled much) and about the Ruh.
This indicates that this story was something recorded in the books of the People of the Book, and that it came before Christianity. And Allah knows best.
While Hafiz Ibn Kathir states his opinion, he does not stamp it as the final and conclusive opinion. The usage of words indicates as such. He however, mentions immediately afterwards:
Several of the earlier and later Tafsir scholars have mentioned that;
they were sons of the kings and leaders of Byzantium, and that they went out one day to one of the festivals of their people. They used to gather once a year outside the city, and they would worship idols and offer sacrifices to them. They had an arrogant, tyrannical king who was called Decianus, who commanded and encouraged the people to do that. When the people went out to attend this gathering, these young men went out with their fathers and their people, and when they saw their people's actions with clear insight, they realized that the prostrations and sacrifices the people were offering to their idols should only be dedicated to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth.
The question that Hafiz Ibn Kathir presents for his argument (i.e. why were the Jews interested if they were Christians) can be answered as follows:
الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءهُمُ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
Those to whom We have given the Scripture recognize it as they recognize their [own] sons. Those who will lose themselves [in the Hereafter] do not believe.
Since the Jews recognized the Prophet –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- and the Qur’an very well, it would not be incorrect to assume that they recognize(d) Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him- as well. Therefore, having a desire for knowledge would not be surprising because the Jews do not ignore him altogether as he has been mentioned in the Talmud as well indicating their interest in knowing about things relating to him whether in positive or negative light.
9. Illogical claim of plagiarism
The illogical claim states that since there is a Christian legend related to such a story, it has to be the source for what the Qur’an narrates. Qur’an states one of its purposes that it is to correct the people of the book in matters over which they dispute. Qur’an has done exactly what it claims. Similar allegations have been made regarding the Qur’an copying from Greek science whereas this allegation is equal to claiming that the author of the Qur’an was smart enough to know the right from the errors and copied only the scientifically correct portion. The problem would have arisen if the Qur’an copied exactly from other scriptures without rectifying their errors. However, since that is not the case, the allegation of plagiarism does not stand valid.
A reason for the fallacy of plagiarism is the assumption that the Bible is the complete guide to judge everything else and anything of similar religious outlook, but not mentioned in religious scriptures, is nothing more than a fairytale. The Qur’an considers other forms of evidence as well:
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقُوا مِنَ الْأَرْضِ أَمْ لَهُمْ شِرْكٌ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ اِئْتُونِي بِكِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ هَذَا أَوْ أَثَارَةٍ مِّنْ عِلْمٍ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
Say, [O Muhammad], "Have you considered that which you invoke besides Allah? Show me what they have created of the earth; or did they have partnership in [creation of] the heavens? Bring me a scripture [revealed] before this or a [remaining] trace of knowledge, if you should be truthful."
The verse confirms that anything outside the Bible is not to be out rightly rejected and there can be other forms of knowledge as well.
10. What are the signs of the people of the cave?
While making allegations against the Qur’an of plagiarizing from Bible and other banned scriptures of the Bible by Christian elders, the claimant leaves no opportunity to pass on childish comments to make fun of Islam.The 18th chapter mentions the story of the people of the cave as a sign of Allah. Allah even mentions their sleep movements as a sign from Allah which appears amusing to the claimant of plagiarism. This is indeed an amazing sign of the greatness of the book of Allah and is a sure sign that it is actually from the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
فَضَرَبْنَا عَلَى آذَانِهِمْ فِي الْكَهْفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدًا
So We “daraba” (cast [a cover of sleep]) over their ears within the cave for a number of years.
The original Arabic of the phrase "We sealed their ears" in the Qur'an is the verb daraba. This bears the metaphorical meaning of "We have made them sleep." Used in reference to the ears, daraba means "preventing the ears from hearing." The fact that only the sense of hearing is mentioned here is very significant.
According to recent scientific discoveries, the ear is the only sensory organ active while a person is sleeping. This is why we need an alarm clock to wake up. The wisdom of the phrase "We sealed their ears" is, in all probability, that Allah closed the hearing of the young people in question, for which reason they remained asleep for many years. [Source]
Another area over which the enemy of Qur’an,or rather the enemy of his own destiny, makes fun of is as follows:
وَتَحْسَبُهُمْ أَيْقَاظًا وَهُمْ رُقُودٌ وَنُقَلِّبُهُمْ ذَاتَ الْيَمِينِ وَذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ وَكَلْبُهُم بَاسِطٌ ذِرَاعَيْهِ بِالْوَصِيدِ لَوِ اطَّلَعْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ لَوَلَّيْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِرَارًا وَلَمُلِئْتَ مِنْهُمْ رُعْبًا
And you would think them awake, while they were asleep. And We turned them to the right and to the left, while their dog stretched his forelegs at the entrance. If you had looked at them, you would have turned from them in flight and been filled by them with terror.
The above verse refers to the People of the Cave, who remained asleep for hundreds of years. In addition, Allah also reveals that He moved their bodies to the left and right. The wisdom of this was only discovered in recent times.
People who remain lying down in the same position for long period of time encounter serious health problems, such as circulation difficulties, sores, and blood clotting in that part of the body in contact with the surface on which they lie.
The resulting sores are known as "bed sores" or "pressure sores." Due to the constant pressure on one part of the body when one is not moving for a long period of time, the blood vessels become constricted and can close altogether. As a result, the oxygen and other nutrients carried by the blood fail to reach the skin, and the skin begins to die. This leads to the appearance of sores on the body. Unless these sores are treated, fat and muscles can also die.
These sores, which form under the skin or tissue, can assume serious dimensions unless treated. If they become infected, they can even lead to death. The healthiest thing to do, therefore, is to change the position of the body every 15 minutes in order to reduce this pressure. Patients who cannot move themselves therefore receive special care and are moved every 2 hours by other people.The fact that these medical facts, only discovered in the last century, are referred to in the Qur'an is yet another of its miracles. [Source]
11. Inter-Surah linking?
This claim is another brilliant example of “Control + F” where some words used in the story of the people of the cave have been found in the story of king Dhul-Qarnayn and alleged that one story borrowed ideas from the other. The key words here are the sun, its rising and setting and the place of rising and setting. Even though the place and time has been defined by these verses in both the stories, the claimant does not feel satisfied with the repetition of words. If such an approach is adopted, then one can even claim that the Bible copies itself when it uses the word morning in Genesis and also in the story of Pharaoh (Exodus). If one is bent on arguing just for the sake of argument, then there is no end to such absurdities.
It must be mentioned, at the same time, that the mentioning of the sun and its rising and setting in the story of Dhul-Qarnayn is in fact a miraculous explanation of the Qur’an pointing towards its divine origin:
حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَطْلِعَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَطْلُعُ عَلَى قَوْمٍ لَّمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُم مِّن دُونِهَا سِتْرًا
Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had not made against it any shield.
The Arabic word “sitran” in verse 90 of Surat al-Kahf means “cover, shelter, curtain or screen.” The term "lam najAAal lahum min dooniha sitran" describes an environment devoid of any shelter or protection against the Sun. In the light of present-day knowledge, this is suggestive of the ozone layer that protects living things against harmful solar rays.
The area where the ozone layer around the Earth is thinnest, where it protects least against solar radiation, is the poles. Scientific research has established a severe thinning of the ozone layer at the North Pole at the moment the Sun rises and this scientific discovery has been described as Sunrise Ozone Destruction (SOD).
As a matter of fact, during their research, American scientists determined a rapid decrease in ozone concentration at the moment of sunrise – when there was no sign of any before. This phenomenon is particularly encountered in the North Pole (Arctic) region, and there is a serious loss of ozone for a few hours immediately after sunrise.
The Arabic word “matlia” in this verse, meaning the “rising place” of the Sun, may well be a reference to this scientific discovery about the ozone layer. (Allah knows the truth.) The fact that this information, obtained with 20th century high technology, also appears in such a compatible form in the Qur’an, is yet more proof that the Qur’an is the revelation of our Lord, the One and Only Owner of science and technology. [Source]
We have explained before and mentioning again that scholarly differences of opinion should not be used for selfish purposes. If differences of opinion are to be taken as evidence of plagiarism, then there cannot be any authentic book or document in the world.Another similar allegation has been made by another missionary. It is recommended to visit that claim for that answers the query on Al-Raqeem as well.The argument raised is that since there are differences of opinion on the meaning of the word, it has to be copied from some source unknown to the commentators of the Qur’an. All the Muslim translators have translated the word Al-Raqeem using astrong opinion of the companions of the Prophet and early scholars whereas the non-Muslim translators, lacking in depth study of Islamic scriptures, simply put the original word Al-Raqeem as it is. If someone intends to turn such translators into experts to quote them, then no wonder the argument is going to remain shallow.
Such claims are answered by the following saying of Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah:
Narrated Abu Huraira: "I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "I have been sent with Jawami al-Kalim (i.e., the shortest expression carrying the widest meanings), and I was made victorious with awe (caste into the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the earth were brought to me and were put in my hand." Muhammad said, Jawami'-al-Kalim means that Allah expresses in one or two statements or thereabouts the numerous matters that used to be written in the books revealed before (the coming of) the Prophet.”
The saying of Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- is one worth pondering over. Before a person exposes his lack of knowledge while claiming to be an expert researcher, he must do his study properly. If Arabic is not your thing, then you shouldn’t go into it.This claim of Al-Raqeem has been discussed later in the article. Using the same logic used by the enemies of Qur’an against themselves, severe issues arise for them. Although the Qur’anic allegations have been explained thoroughly, the other way round makes the claimants speechless.
If some similarities show that the earlier writing is source of the later then perhaps we ought to say that Moses –peace be upon him- plagiarized even the much celebrated Ten Commandments from the Code of Hammurabi for there are startling similarities between the two. And most certainly the Code of Hammurabi is much older than the Ten Commandments.
13. 200 or 309 years?
While the point of whether the people of the cave slept for 309 years (as per Qur’an) or 200 years (as per Syriac sources) is worth discussing but to make fun of the way the Qur’an puts the number 309 is simply absurd.The Qur’an has a unique style of its own. In fact, the Qur’an has corrected pre-Islamic Arabic at many instances as well and has even changed tenses, masculinity/femininity of a number of nouns. Therefore, Qur’an is the criteria for judging and not vice versa. This is as absurd as judging the dictionary by a teacher based on a student’s essay; the dictionary is the source and not the essay and therefore judging Qur’an from outside sources is illogical to say the least.The irony is that, at the same time, the claimant argues that the age of Prophet Nooh (Noah) –peace be upon him- is incorrect as per the Qur’an. Amusing part is that this comes from a man who considers the world to be somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. What must always be remembered is that basing one’s stance on scholarly differences is not a wise act and this selfish and low approach must be avoided if one intends to put some weight behind their arguments.
Coming to the people of the cave and their mention in Syriac sources, one of themclaims that the people of the cavewent to sleep during the reign of Decius (died 251 AD)and woke up during the reign of Theodosius II (died 450 AD). As per this source, the number of years of sleepturns out to be a little less than 200. The fallacy arises if this source is taken as final and conclusive.This source gives the number of sleepers to be seven. The Greek poet Edessan in his book Acta Sanctorumgives the number to be eight which is also the number provided by the 6th century Syriac copy kept in British Museum. However, as per Jacobus de Varagine, the archbishop of Genoa, the period of sleep of the people of the cave is uncertain while he confirms the date of their waking up i.e. 378 AD (the reign of Theodosius I). Since the date of sleep is uncertain, it would be incorrect to assume the era of Decius as the start of the sleep as it is a debatable topic which is exactly what the Qur’an states:
سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَّابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَجْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ
“They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog – guessing at the unseen; and they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog.”
قُلِ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثُوا
Say, "Allah is most knowing of how long they remained.
The historical documents are filled with contradictions and differences on the topic over the entire incident including the number of youth in the cave and their period of stay in the cave among other issues. Therefore, the mentioning of the Qur’an of this fact is indeed an amazing aspect of the Qur’an. For the Qur’an to have stated this fact, the author of the Qur’an would have known the entire story along with the minute differences in details as well as disputes and differences of the people. Claiming plagiarism is nothing but dishonesty.
If the latter claim is taken to be true i.e.the people of the cavewaking up in 378 AD, they would have gone to sleep in 69 AD during the time when the believers of Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him- were severely persecuted which began from the first century and continued till the fourth century when the true believers had almost become extinct and had been replaced by Constantine’s Trinitarian Christians.
If the former claim is taken to be true i.e. the people of the cavewaking up in the reign of Theodosius II (died 450 AD.) and going to sleep during the reign ofDecius (died 251 AD.), the story is still reconcilable to arrive at the 309 year figure because Ibn Kathir states regarding the meeting of the king with the sleepers inside or at the gate of the cave:
Apparently he was a Muslim, and his name was Tedosis (Theodosius). They rejoiced at meeting him and spoke with him, then they bid farewell to him and went back to sleep, then Allah caused them to die. And Allah knows best.
Perhaps they went back to sleep and died when they had slept 309 years in total.One important thing to note here is that the names of some Roman kings related to the waking up and sleeping of the people of the cave can be found in the works of some Islamic commentators. Jarir al-Tabari cites the former Syriac source (work of Jacob of Sarug) in his commentary. We have discussed that source above and other contradicting sources. The commentaries have used this source and therefore the conclusion is not final as the commentators have stated this themselves. Considering the historical proofs that both Theodosius I and Theodosius II were not believers, the second conclusion stated above of the people of the cave going to sleep in 69 AD and waking in 378 AD seems more likely to be true but Allah knows the best.
The important thing here is that the Qur’an mentions the correct story while pointing out the differences people had stating them to be of little or no relevance. The bottom line is that true believers had been persecuted while pagans opposed the truth violently; the lessons behind the story are the most important part here.
14. Yajuj / Majuj (Gog / Magog) and end times’ link
Those crying plagiarism argue that the story of the people of the cave carries an apocalyptic theme to it. The waking up of the sleepers is equivalent to the resurrection on the Day of Judgement and the release of Yajuj and Majuj after the Day of Judgement (yes these are the claimant’s words) and recitation of the first ten and last ten verses of the Surah for protection from the evil of Dajjal (anti-Christ) carry an apocalyptic theme along with the story of king Dhul-Qarnayn and therefore appears to be influenced or plagiarized from the New Testament. The following words of criticism are interesting:
The central message of the narrative of the sleepers is thus linked to the final day and hour, displaying another connection with the narratives of apocalyptic nature.
Before proceeding to this criticism, the claimant must be correct for his lack of reading and research once again even though the question itself arises out of ill-knowledge. The release of Yajuj and Majuj is noton orafter the Day of Judgement but rather before the Day of Judgement as the same Surah states:
قَالَ هَذَا رَحْمَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّي فَإِذَا جَاء وَعْدُ رَبِّي جَعَلَهُ دَكَّاء وَكَانَ وَعْدُ رَبِّي حَقًّا
[Dhul-Qarnayn] said, "This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord comes, He will make it level, and ever is the promise of my Lord true."
From this verse, it might not be clear whether the barrier of Yajuj and Majuj would be broken down before the last day. Perhaps the claimant used this verse alone without reading further. Another verse makes it even clear.
حَتَّى إِذَا فُتِحَتْ يَأْجُوجُ وَمَأْجُوجُ وَهُم مِّن كُلِّ حَدَبٍ يَنسِلُونَ وَاقْتَرَبَ الْوَعْدُ الْحَقُّ فَإِذَا هِيَ شَاخِصَةٌ أَبْصَارُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يَا وَيْلَنَا قَدْ كُنَّا فِي غَفْلَةٍ مِّنْ هَذَا بَلْ كُنَّا ظَالِمِينَ
Until when [the dam of] Gog and Magog has been opened and they, from every elevation, descend. And [when] the true promise has approached; then suddenly the eyes of those who disbelieved will be staring [in horror, while they say], “O woe to us; we had been unmindful of this; rather, we were wrongdoers.”
The true promise refers to the Day of Judgement whereas Yajuj and Majuj would be released before the Day of Judgment as the words are very clear. However, if one still has an issue, then the best thing to do is to ask the Prophet of Allah:
It (the last hour) will not come until you see ten signs before and (in this connection) he made a mention of the smoke, Dajjal, the beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of Eisa son of Maryam (Allah be pleased with him), the Gog and Magog, and land-sliding in three places, one in the east, one in the west and one in Arabia at the end of which fire would burn forth from the Yemen, and would drive people to the place of their assembly. [Saheeh Muslim 41:6931]Please visit a more detailed Hadith on the subject.here.
The Hadith quoted and the one provided in link should be sufficient to answer this query of the claimants of plagiarism. Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him- has an important position in Islam and Muslims do believe in his return. If Islam had plagiarized selectively from earlier books and so attacked Christianity, then Prophet Eisa –peace be upon- would not have been given such a high position in the Qur’an. His return and similar events would have been denied but this is not the case.
When the Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah-mention that reciting the first ten and last ten verses of the Surah prevent from the evil of Dajjal, one must understand the bigger picture and understandthe trials of Dajjal. The events mentioned in this Surah provide answers and lessons to learn and ponder upon to survive the evil of Dajjal. The following are the lessons learnt:
- Trial of faith (people of the cave)
- Trial of wealth (stories of two men and two gardens)
- Trial of knowledge (Prophets Moosa and Khidr –peace be upon them)
- Trial of Power (Dhul-Qarnayn and Yajuj and Majuj)
The key to survival of these trials is also found in the same Surah
- Sincerity (verse 110)
- Calling to Allah (verse 27)
- Remembering the Hereafter (verses 47-49)
- Good companionship (verse 28)
- Knowing the truth about this world (verse 45)
- Humbleness (verse 69)
And much more.
15. The Infancy Gospel
So far we have addressed thevarious allegations of the Qur’an copying from the Bible, from historical sources and from other events within the Qur’an. There have been relatively recent allegations of the Qur’an copying from the banned books of the Bible. One such book is the Infancy Gospel which discusses aspects of the life of Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him- not touched by the Bible. Some have suggested that the Qur’an copied from it. However, this claim is based upon guesswork and a careful study of the two scripturesreveals that this is not true. The claim that Arab Christians were aware of this story is also unfounded.
The writer states the story in a way that was against the prevalent Jewish beliefs of the time. For example, in the fourth verse, the people considerProphet Eisa –peace be upon him-to beLord without any valid reason whereas from the New Testament, we know that the Jews considered such a claim as blasphemy and worthy of being punished with death by stoning. The writer keeps on saying that whenever people were amazed with the miracles of Prophet Eisa-peace be upon him-, they took him as Lord.
It is argued that the 309 years mentioned by the Qur’an are untraceable to the Bible or any historical source and this figure comes strikingly the same as mentioned in the Infancy Gospel (even though mentioned for some other event). The logic of this argument from the start is against itself. On one hand it is implied that Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- copied only the correct portions from other sources while made this simple mathematical mistake. What is claimed as a mistake has already been addressed above. Regarding the appearance of the 309 years in the Infancy Gospel, they are mentioned as follows:
In the three hundred and ninth year of the era of Alexander, Augustus put forth an edict, that every man should be enrolled in his native place. Joseph therefore arose, and taking Mary his spouse, went away to Jerusalem, and came to Bethlehem, to be enrolled along with his family in his native city.
It appears that the writer of this gospel had a high regard for Alexander the Macedonian that he considered his reign as the calculating factor. Perhaps there were some groups of Jews who used his era as their calendar because there is a group of Jews who still consider Alexander to be Dhul-Qarnayn. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Alexander the Macedonian paid homage to the Jewish High Priest, Shimon HaTzadik. He was of the Zadokite priestly line (the one installed by King David –peace be upon him).Alexander the Macedonian also confirmed the appointment of Tobiad dynasty. This dynasty had originally been appointed by Persia as governor of the Trans-Euphrates. According to some, Tobiah was the eponymous progenitor of the Tubba' dynasty of Arabia.
Al-Tabarai records echos of this tradition. He states that the Tubba' kings of Arabia (who ruled from about 275CE to 525CE) claimed descent from Harith al-Raish or al-Filsuf. This Harith was honored by Alexander the Macedonian, and according to Jewish historians, he was also a grandson of Tobiah.
It seems most likely that the writer of this gospel held Alexander the Macedonian in high esteem that he recounted his era even though Palestine was occupied by the Romans during his time.
Alexander the Macedonian was born in 356 BC and died in 323 BC while he became the king in 336BC. 309 years after 336 BC would lead us to the year 27 BC which in turn lead us to the era of Augustus exactly as mentioned by the Infancy Gospel. Perhaps the writer took some other year as the starting of the reign of Alexander such as when his tutoring was over and he was considered worthy to be a king i.e. 342 BC and 309 years from then would be the year 33 BC (the year of the birth of Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him).
Therefore, it can be concluded that the 309 years mentioned by the Infancy Gospel is correct in its own regard and the 309 years mentioned by the Qur’an is correct in its own regard.The issue would arise if one identifies both these ‘regards’ as one and the same which would be incorrect because ofthe Islamic position on Dhul-Qarnayn which has already been stated.
To turn the same logic around, it can be argued that the age of Alexander at the time of his death was 32 which is similar to the debatable age of Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him- as per the Christian Bible (debate ranges between 30 and 34) and as has already been proven the love and respect of Jews and Christians for Alexander the Macedonian, it would not be incorrect assume that the Bible plagiarized the age of Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him- from example of Alexander. This, of course, is a poor and false argument with weak unfounded logic but this is exactly how arguments have been put up against the Qur’an.
16. Cave, sun and the temple
Another amazing example of “Control + F” can further be found in the plagiarism claim from Infancy Gospel. The plagiarism claimant perhaps opened this book and searched for these four words, which are most likely to be found in all religious scriptures including those of Hindus and Buddhists, andjumped with joy at the success of finding the words.
And having come to a cave, Mary told Joseph that the time of the birth was at hand, and that she could not go into the city; but, said she, let us go into this cave. This took place at sunset. And Joseph went out in haste to go for a woman to be near her. When, therefore, he was busy about that, he saw an Hebrew old woman belonging to Jerusalem, and said: Come hither, my good woman, and go into this cave, in which there is a woman near her time.
Then came shepherds; and when they had lighted a fire, and were rejoicing greatly, there appeared to them the hosts of heaven praising and celebrating God Most High. And while the shepherds were doing the same, the cave was at that time made like a temple of the upper world, since both heavenly and earthly voices glorified and magnified God on account of the birth of the Lord Christ.
Entering into a cave for childbirth is not an unusual practice. In fact, this is how the ancient Israeli child births took place; Prophet Ya’qub (Jacob) –peace be upon him-‘s wife Rachel was buried in a cave where she passed away giving birth to Benjamin.Besides, caves were used for private matters so one may stay out of sight of the public. Therefore, when the Infancy gospel mentions the event of childbirth of Prophet Eisa –peace be upon him- in a cave, it is not a deviation from ancient Israeli practices.The same is valid for seeking refuge in a cave. The Bible is filled with stories of prophets seeking refuge in caves. Therefore to say that the mention of a cave in the Qur’an is plagiarism is simply absurd. The Qur’an also confirms and states this Israeli custom of seeking shelter in caves.
The mention of sun in both the stories (Qur’an and Infancy Gospel) is also an unrelated incident. The Qur’an mentions it for the position of the cave whereas the Infancy Gospel mentions it as the time of childbirth i.e. sunset. We have already discussed the signs from the sun in the event of the people of the cave above.
Building a temple on the cave is actually an amazing information that confirms the truth of Islam.A saying of Prophet Muhammad –on him be the peace and blessings of Allah- actually confirms this:
"If any religious man died amongst those people (Christians) they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it.”
Other narrations in the same book (no. 427, 428) mention that along with Christians, the Jews also made places of worship over the graves. Another narration is as follows:
Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, but you must not take graves as mosques.
It is therefore very clear that what the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet mention are in fact pure facts which no one can deny and which is also what the banned books also testify to.Further reading on Infancy gospel arguments.
The Qur’an is the original and exact word of God with no outside influence. It was revealed by the Creator of the heavens and the earth for several reasons one of which is to correct the previous scriptures that have been altered, mistranslated, lost, written from memory, corrupted and edited over centuries and millenniums. The claim that anything in the Qur’an is plagiarized is simply a false statement as proven by this article.
-- by Adeel Tariq Khan
 Qur’an 2:213
Fath al-Bari vol. VI, page 294
Fath al-Bari vol. VI page 294
Al Bidaya wa Al-Nihaya vol. 2 page 105-106
Stated in Qur’an5:48
 Qur’an 18:18
 Qur’an 18:90
Sahih Bukhari, vol. 9, 87:141
 Qur’an 18:22
1 Samuel 24:3
Saheeh Bukhari vol. 1, 8:419
Saheeh Muslim 4:1083