Who Authored the Qur’an?—an Enquiry
By Abul Kasem
An afterthought: After the posting of Part 2 of this series, some readers requested me to elicit the verses of Zayd b. Amr’s poems which I mentioned in Part 2. I wrote that those verses have uncanny similarities with some Qur’anic verses. Previously, I did not quote those verses just to keep the length of this essay short and not to bore the readers (as well as not to break the copyright laws). Here are some sample verses from Zayd’s poem. For more details please refer to ibn Ishaq’s biography of Muhammad (see bibliography).---Abul Kasem
Ibn Ishaq (pp.100-101)
Zayd b. ‘Amr. B. Nufayl composed the following poem about leaving his people and the torment he received from them:
Am I to worship one lord or a thousand?
If there are as many as you claim,
I renounce al-Lat and al-‘Uzza both of them
As any strong-minded person would.
I will not worship al-‘Uzza and her two daughters,
Nor will I visit the two images of the Banu ‘Amr.
I will not worship Hubal’ though he was our lord
In the days when I had little sense.
I wondered (for in the night much is strange
Which in daylight is plain to the discerning),
That God had annihilated many men
Whose deeds were thoroughly evil
And spared others through the piety of a people
So that a little child could grow in manhood.
A man may languish for a time and then recover
As the branch of a tree revives after the rain.
I serve my Lord the compassionate
That the forgiving Lord may pardon my sin,
So keep to the fear of God your Lord;
While you hold to that you will not perish.
You will see the pious living in gardens,
While for the infidels hell fire is burning.
Shamed in life, when they die
Their breasts will contract in anguish.
Zayd also said: (143)
To God I give my praise and thanksgiving,
A sure word that will not fail as long as time lasts,
To the heavenly King—there is no God beyond Him
And no lord can draw near to Him.
Beware, O men, of what follows death!
You can hide nothing from God..
Beware of putting another beside God,
For the upright way has become clear.
Merry I implore, others trust in jinn,
But thou, my God, art our Lord and our hope.
I am satisfied with thee, O God, as a Lord,
And will not worship another God beside thee.
Thou of thy goodness and mercy
Didst send a messenger to Moses as a herald.
Thou saidst to him, Go thou and Aaron,
And summon Pharaoh the tyrant to run to God
And say to him, ‘Did you spread out this (earth) without support,
Until it stood fast as it does?’
Say to him ‘Did you raise this (heaven) without support?
What a fine builder then you were!’
Say to him ‘Did you set the moon in the middle thereof
As a light to guide when night covered it?’
Say to him, ‘Who sent forth the sun by day
So that the earth it touched reflected its splendour?’
Say to him, ‘Who planted seeds in the dust
That herbage might grow and wax great?
And brought forth its seeds in the head of the plant?’
Therein are signs for the understanding.
Thou in thy kindness did deliver Jonah
Who spent nights in the belly of the fish.
Though I glorify thy name, I often repeat
‘O Lord of creatures, bestow thy gifts and mercy upon me
And bless my sons and property.
[(143) Ibn Hisham’s note (ibn Ishaq p.713): These verses really belong to an ode of Umayya b. Abu’l-Salt, except for the first two, the fifth, and the last verse. The second half of the first verse does not come via I.I.]
Here is another sample verse of Zayd b. Amr (ibn Ishaq, p.102):
And Zayd said:
I submit myself to him to whom
The earth which bears mighty rocks is subject.
He spread it out and when He saw it was settled
Upon the waters, He fixed the mountains on it.
I submit myself to Him to whom clouds which bear
Sweet water are subject
When they are borne along to a land
They obediently pour copious rain upon it.
After Zayd b. Amr was killed, his comrade Waraqa b. Naufal b. Asad (i.e., Khadijah’s cousin brother) composed this elegy over him (ibn Ishaq, p.103):
You were altogether on the right path Ibm ‘Amr,
You have escaped hell’s burning oven
By serving the one and only God
And abandoning vain idols.
And by attaining the religion which you sought
Not being unmindful of the unity of your Lord
You have reached a noble dwelling
Wherein you will rejoice in your generous treatment.
You will meet there the friend of God, (3)
Since you were not a tyrant ripe for hell,
For the mercy of God reaches men,
Though they be seventy valleys deep below the earth (146)
Footnote (3): The district of which ‘Amman was the capital. Ibn Hisham’s note (146): The first two verses of this poem are attributed to Umayya b. Abu al-Salt and the last verse occurs in one of his odes. The words ‘vain idols’ have not I.I..’a authority.
[The reason of my quoting the elegy of Waraqa is to demonstrate the strong camaraderie between Zayd b. Amr and Waraqa which had propelled Muhammad to develop a deep respect and appreciation of what Zayd b. Amr sincerely believed, resolutely stood and eventually died for. He was determined to emulate Zayd b. Amr, the great confidante’ of Waraqa and hence Khadijah. Remember? Khadijah was Muhammad’s first wife and his only support.---Abul Kasem]
Hasan b. Thabit
Hasan b. Thabit was Muhammad’s own official poet. He wrote the Diwan, the anthology of ancient Arabian poetry. When Muhammad migrated to Medina he made Hasan b. Thabit his own poet. Nonetheless, Hasan b. Thabit had his idiosyncrasies. Even though he was the personal poet of Muhammad he had a deep dislike for the Muslims. On page xxviii of Sirat Rasul Allah, the translator, Professor Alfred Guillaume writes, “Hasan b. Thabit disliked the growing number of Muslims. He considered the vagrant Muslims as unmitigated nuisance. He did not house any of the Muhajirin, nor was a brother to one of them.”
Most likely, Hasan b. Thabit was a hired poet (a kind of journalist) of Muhammad—paid to compose poetry as per Muhammad’s specifications. This can be confirmed from Ahadith. Here are some examples:
From Sahih Bukhari: Muhammad approved Hassan b. Thabit to recite poetry in a mosque…4.54.434
Volume 4, Book 54, Number 434: Narrated Sa'id bin Al-Musaiyab: 'Umar came to the Mosque while Hassan was reciting a poem. ('Umar disapproved of that). On that Hassan said, "I used to recite poetry in this very Mosque in the presence of one (i.e. the Prophet ) who was better than you." Then he turned towards Abu Huraira and said (to him), "I ask you by Allah, did you hear Allah's Apostle saying (to me), "Retort on my behalf. O Allah! Support him (i.e. Hassan) with the Holy Spirit?" Abu Huraira said, "Yes." This Hadis, unmistakably shows that Hasan used to construct poems for Muhammad to be recited in the mosque. Can those poems not be some of the Suras of the Qur’an?
Muhammad instructed Hassan, the poet to lampoon the pagans…4.54.435
Volume 4, Book 54, Number 435: Narrated Al Bara: The Prophet said to Hassan, "Lampoon them (i.e. the pagans) and Gabriel is with you." This Hadis demonstrates that Hasan b. Thabit used to compose poems as per Muhammad’s likes and dislikes—just the way the Qur’an is composed of Allah’s revelations via Gabriel. Hassan b. Thabit lampooned the infidels excluding Muhammad…4.56.731 Volume 4, Book 56, Number 731: Narrated 'Aisha: Once Hassan bin Thabit asked the permission of the Prophet to lampoon (i.e. compose satirical poetry defaming) the infidels. The Prophet said, "What about the fact that I have common descent with them?" Hassan replied, "I shall take you out of them as a hair is taken out of dough." Narrated 'Urwa: I started abusing Hassan in front of 'Aisha, whereupon she said. "Don't abuse him, for he used to defend the Prophet (with his poetry)." Here are further evidence that Hasan b. Thabit was a paid scribe—a Qur’an composer of Muhammad Muhammad asked his poet Hassan to abuse the B. Qurayzah Jews through his poetry...Sahih Bukhari: 5.59.449
Volume 5, Book 59, Number 449: Narrated Al-Bara: The Prophet said to Hassan, "Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e, supports you)." (Through another group of sub narrators) Al-Bara bin Azib said, "On the day of Quraiza's (besiege), Allah's Apostle said to Hassan bin Thabit, 'Abuse them (with your poems), and Gabriel is with you (i.e. supports you).' " This Hadis demonstrates further that Muhammad commissioned Hasan b. Thabit to compose poems as per his stipulations.
Abu Talha gave his valuable property to his relatives, viz. Hassan b. Thabit and Ubayy b. Ka’b…5.2186
Book 005, Number 2186: Anas reported that when this verse was revealed:" You will not attain righteousness till you give freely of what you love," Abu Talha said: I see that our Lord has demanded from us out of our property; so I make you a witness, Messenger of Allah. that I give my land known as Bairaha' for the sake of Allah. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Give that to your relatives. So he gave it to Hassan b. Thabit and Ubayy b. Ka'b. That was how Muhammad rewarded Hasan b. Thabit for composing Qur’anic verses (via his poems, and helped by Gabriel) for Muhammad.
After Hassan b. Thabit went blind he used to spend time at Aisha’s quarter. Aisha admired him as he used to write satirical rebuttal on be half of Muhammad…31.6077
Book 031, Number 6077: Masruq reported: I visited 'A'isha when Hassin was sitting there and reciting verses from his compilation: She is chaste and prudent. There is no calumny against her and she rises up early in the morning without eating the meat of the un- mindful. 'A'isha said: But you are not so. Masruq said: I said to her: Why do you permit him to visit you, whereas Allah has said:" And as for him among them who took upon himself the main part thereof, he shall have a grievous punishment" (XXIV. ll)? Thereupon she said: What tornient can be more severe than this that he has become blind? He used to write satire as a rebuttal on behalf of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). That was how Hasan b. Thabit saved Muhammad and his Qur’an!
Here is another Hadis from Sahih Muslim that even claims that Hasan b. Thabit’s poems were helped by divine power (Ruh-ul-Quddus) and were similar to certain Qur’anic verses:
Book 031, Number 6081: 'A'isha reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be uport him) said. Satirise against the (non-believing amongst the) Quraish, for (the satire) is more grievous to them than the hurt of an arrow. So he (the Holy Prophet) sent (someone) to Ibn Rawiha and asked him to satirise against them, and he composed a satire, but it did not appeal to him (to the Holy Prophet). He then sent (someone) to Ka'b b. Malik (to do the same, but what he composed did not appeal to the Holy Prophet). He then sent one to Hassan b. Thabit. As he got into his presence, Hassan said: Now you have called for this lion who strikes (the enemies) with his tail. He then brought out his tongue and began to move it and said: By Him Who has sent you with Truth, I shall tear them with my tongue as the leather is torn. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Don't be hasty; (let) Abu Bakr who has the best know- ledge of the lineage of the Quraish draw a distinction for you in regard to my lineage, as my lineage is thesame as theirs. Hassan then came to him (Abu Bakr) and after making inquiry (in regard to the lineage of the Holy Prophet) came back to him (the holy Prophet) and said: Allah's Messenger, he (Abu Bakr) has drawn a distinction in vour lineage (and that of the Quraish) By Him Who has sent you with Truth, I shall draw out from them (your name) as hair is drawn out from the flour. 'A'isha said: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying to Hassin: Verily Ruh-ul- Qudus would continue to help you so long as you put up a defence on behalf of Allah and His Messenger. And she said: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saying: Hassan satirised against them and gave satisfaction to the (Muslims) and disquieted (the non-Muslims). You satirised Muhammad, but I replied on his behalf, And there is reward with Allah for this. You satirised Muhammad. virtuous, righteous, The Apostle of Allah, whose nature is truthfulness. So verily my father and his father and my honour Are a protection to the honour of Muhammad; May I lose my dear daughter, if you don't see her, Wiping away the dust from the two sides of Kada', They pull at the rein, going upward; On their shoulders are spears thirsting (for the blood of the enemy) ; our steeds are sweating-our women wipe them with their mantles. If you had not interfered with us, we would have performed the 'Umra, And (then) there was the Victory, and the darkness cleared away. Otherwise wait for the fighting on the day in which Allah will honour whom He pleases. And Allah said: I have sent a servant who says the Truth in which there is no ambiguity; And Allah said: I have prepared an army-they are the Ansar whose object is fighting (the enemy), There reaches every day from Ma'add abuse, or fighting or satire; Whoever satirises the Apostle from amongst you, or praises him and helps it is all the same, And Gabriel, the Apostle of Allah is among us, and the Holy Spirit who has no match. Muhammad rewarded this mercenary poet of him by awarding him a pretty, young damsel Sirin, who, along with Marriyah Kibtia was presented to Muhammad by Muyaqis, the then governor of Alexandria. Muhammad kept for himself Marriyah, the prettiest lass and donated Sirin to Hasan b. Thabit to be used as his sex-slave. Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Ishaq, p.652) writes that Sirin and Marriyah were sisters.
Salman the Persian
Salman, the Persian was originally a devout Zoroastrian from Isfahan, Persia. Then he converted to Christianity. Later, he was sold as a slave to a B. Qurayza Jew of Medina. When Muhammad arrived at Medina Salman met him there. Some 3 years later, with the help of Muslims he purchased his freedom from his master and converted to Islam--becoming an ardent companion of Muhammad. During the battle of Ahzab (the battle of the ditch) the trench digging was his idea. He was well acquainted with the books of the Persians (i.e., Zoroastrianism), the Greeks and the Jews. Ali said about him (Reliance of the Traveller, p.1093), “He was a man of us and for us, the line of prophetic house, and in relation to you as the sage Luqman, having learned the first knowledge and the last, read the first scripture and the last: an exhaustive sea.”
Undoubtedly, Muhammad cleverly utilised Salman’s extraordinary talent to compose many verses of the Qur’an that deal with historical tales of the ancient Egypt, the Greek, the Romans and the Persians. As Salman was formerly a Zoroastrian, Muhammad learned, in detail many of their beliefs and practices and incorporated them in his Qur’an. Muhammad’s description of Paradise and hell are stunningly similar to that of the Zoroastrians. So those verses dealing with the punishment in Hell and the prize in Paradise were surely contributed by Salman, the Persian. It is interesting to note that Salman became a close member of Muhammad’s family. Aisha reports that Muhammad used to spend countless hours with him-- discussing various religious issues, so much so, that Aisha thought that Salman would spend the night with Muhammad.
Those who have read the Qur’an up close—many times, will be profoundly surprised with Muhammad’s absolute pre-occupation with the description of Paradise and hell. There are many verses in the Qura’an that, time after time, deal with this particular topic—that is, the purely sensual rewards of Paradise for the believers and the sadistic, odious punishment for the unbelievers. Most of these verses, no doubt, were inspired by Salman, the Persian and later, written down by Muhammad’s scribes at his dictate—passing them up as Allah’s revelations. Here I am citing just a few of such verses. To save space I have cited only the main message in the verse. For details please refer to the verse number quoted.
The Qur’anic Paradise If the believers do not commit the most heinous (major sin) of the forbidden (idolatry) then God will forgive other sins and admit them in paradise...4:31 The believers will have easy life and will dwell in paradise forever…7:42 In paradise there will be no jealousy, all will glorify God for guiding them…7:43 The paradise dwellers will enquire about the appalling condition of the hell dwellers…7:44 God promises paradise (beautiful mansions in the garden of Eden) to the believing men and women…9:72 Gardens (many gardens in paradise?) of eternity (Eden), beneath river flowing, adorned with bracelets of gold, green garments, fine silk; comfortable furnishing...18:31 God promises paradise (beautiful mansions in the garden of Eden) to the believing men and women…9:72 In paradise there are two gardens of grape fruit surrounded by date palms and a corn field in between them...18:32 In paradise there is no nonsense; only salutation of peace, sustenance in the morning and in the evening...19:62-63 Believers will be admitted to the gardens (many gardens in paradise?) beneath which river flows; they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments will be of silk...2.23 People have no idea of how much joy and happiness God has reserved in paradise for the believers…32:17 The believers will be in gardens of eternity (many gardens in paradise?); they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments will be of silk…35:33 For the sincere and devoted servants of God there will be sustenance (in paradise), fruits, honor, dignity, garden of felicity, they will face each other on thrones, pass around a cup from a clear flowing fountain, crystal white delicious drink, no headache, no intoxication, chaste women…36:41-50 In paradise there will be every kind of fruit and there will be peace and security...44:55 There will be no taste of death in paradise for the believers except their first death...44:56 Slain Jihadists will be in paradise…47:6 God will readily offer paradise to the believers…50:31 Near the boundary of Lote tree is the paradise…53:15 Class3 Those nearest to God in the garden of bliss (upper paradise)...56:11-12 The width of a garden in paradise is the width of heaven and earth...57:21 If you repent then God will remove ills and send you to paradise under which rivers flow; the believers’ light will radiate in front of them and on to their right side...66:8 God will reward the righteous with a garden (paradise) and garments of silk will be theirs for their patience...76:12 The believers will recline in garden (paradise) on raised thrones, no excessive heat of the sun; no excessive cold of the moon...76:13 The residents of paradise will enjoy wine mixed with Zaanzabil (zinger?)…76:17 The fountain in paradise is called Salsabil...76:18 Passed around will be vessels of silver and goblets of crystal; they will be served by youths (boys) of perpetual freshness like pearls...76:19 There will be peace and tranquillity everywhere in paradise…76:20 Green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, adorned with bracelets of silver; God will give everyone to drink a pure holy wine...76:21
And the Qur’anic Hell The preachers of idolatry will be cut off from their followers and will be sent to hell...2:166 God casts terror in the hearts of unbelievers; they will reside in hell...3:151 Hell is a woeful refuge...3:162 The dwellers of hell will be covered with shame; there are no helpers for them...3:192 Hell is a burning fire; so is envy...4:55 Unbelievers will be cast in fire, their skins roasted often, skin changed often for more roasting...4:56 The unbelievers will drink boiling water in hell...6:70 Each new entrant of hell will blame his ancestors for leading him to hell; the penalty of hell fire is doubled for those who mislead others...7:38 Allah has made many men and Jinns for hell; they are worse than cattle...7:179 The unbelievers will burn in hell...14:29 There are seven gates in hell each of special class...15:44 Hell is a prison (dungeon) for the unbelievers...17:8 When someone wants material things, God will bestow this first; then He will gather them in Gehenna (hell) to be burnt forever)...17:18 Unbelievers will be lying face down, will be dumb and deaf on the judgment day; God will increase the fierceness of hell fire...17:97 Hell is an entertainment for the unbelievers...18:102 Those who are gathered in hell will lay face down...25:34 Zaqqum, the bitter tree in hell is for the unbelievers…37:62 Zaqqum springs out of bottom of hell fire…37:64 The unbelievers will be led to hell in crowds; gates will be opened, the keepers will ask questions regarding the messengers sent…39:71 The people of Pharaoh will be brought in front of hellfire in the morning and in the evening...40:46 Those in hellfire will beg the keepers of hell to lighten the penalty at least for a day...40:49 The keepers of hell will admonish the inmates of hell for disobeying the messengers sent to them while they were in earth…40:50 God will taunt the Christians in hell saying: Where are all my partners that you used to believe in?...40:73 The unbelievers will ask Malek, the keeper of hell to kill them with God’s permission; but Malek will promise them to keep them in hell forever…43:77 One day God will ask hell if it is full or not; the hell will ask more inmates in it...50:30 Unbelievers will be entertainment with boiling water and their will be burned in hellfire...56:93 The only food in hell will be bitter ones; filth and pus…69:35-37 To escape hell fire, the sinners will offer to sacrifice their children, wives, brothers.....everything on earth; but these will not be acceptable to Allah, and the fire will be plucking out right to the skull...70:11-16 Non-Muslim Jinns and the idolaters will be the fuels of hell fire...72:15 Hellfire changes skin colour...74:27-29 For the disbelievers, Allah has prepared shackles, chains and a blazing hellfire…76:4 No coolness and drink in hell (gehenna)...78:24
For brevity’s sake I did not include the historical references in the Qur’an that were undoubtedly told to Muhammad by Salman. Please spend some time searching the Qur’an and you will surely discover that they were purely man-made stories—not the stories told by Allah.
“The Holy Qur’an,” the internet version of three English translations can be read at: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/ ]
Ali, Abdullah, Yusuf, “The Holy Qur’an: Translation and Commentary,” Amana Corp., Brentwood, Maryland, 1983.
al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Ismail, “Sahi Bukhari,” translated in English by Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan: [ http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/ ]
Muslim, Abu al-Hussain b. al-Hajjaj al-Qushairi, “Sahi Muslim,” translated in English by Abdul Hamid Siddiqui: [ http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/ ]
Hughes, Patrick Thomas, “A Dictionary of Islam;” first published in 1886; latest reprint by Kazi Publications Inc., Chicago, 1994.
“The Origins of the Koran,”edited by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1998.
Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad b. Yasr, “Sirat Rasul Allah,” translated in English by A. Guillaume; first by published by Oxford University Press, London in 1955; fifteenth reprint by Oxford University Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 2001.
Ibn Sa’d, Abu Abd Allah Muhammad, “Kitab al-Tabaqat,” vol i, translated in English by S. Moinul Haq, Kitab Bhavan; 1784, Kalam Mahal, Daraya Ganj, New Delhi, India, 1972.
Ibn Sa’d, Abu Abd Allah Muhammad, “Kitab al-Tabaqat,” vol ii, translated in English by S. Moinul Haq, Kitab Bhavan; 1784, Kalam Mahal, Daraya Ganj, New Delhi, India, 1972.
Ibn al-Kalbi, Hisham, “The Book of Idols (Kitab Al-Asnam),” translated in English by Nabih Amin Faris, Princeton University Press, 1952. [ http://www.answering-islam.org/Books/Al-Kalbi/index.htm ]
al-Misri, Ahmed ibn Naqib, “Raliance of the Traveller (‘Umdat al-Salik),” revised edition, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Amana Publications, Bettsville, Maryland, 1999.
This essay continues in Part 4/5
Abul Kasem writes from Sydney.
Part 1 2 3 4 5
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