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The Second Explanation: Prophet Muhammad [p] Must Have Learned the Qur’an From Other persons or Sources


Like the first supposed explanation, this second explanation is also common and is expressed explicitly or implicitly. The main argument to support it is that there are several “parallels” between the Qur’an and the Bible. Since the Bible was in existence for hundreds of years before the Qur’an, then these parallels signify that the later book [the Qur’an] must have drawn such information from the earlier book [the Bible]. It argued, furthermore that throughout his travels especially with commercial caravans, Prophet Muhammad [p] must have heard or learned about the notion of the one God, prophets and other Jewish and Christian teachings. Through these sources, it is claimed, he formulated his new religion. This claim is a mere assertion or assumption rather than a factual statement. However, as Tibawi notes, by sheer repetition and wide circulation this assertion and the far-reaching judgments based on it, it was elevated to the dignity of facts. 22 An example of such assertions was made by Montgomery Watt: “Islam would have to admit the fact of its origin, the historical influence of Judaeo-Christian traditions.” 23 Commenting on this statement, Tibawi says : “Here the question of (origins) is taken as settled and referred to as a (fact) without any qualification or discussion”.24 There are least…. arguments to challenge this common assumption:


1. Such a sweeping generalization implies that the most authoritative and authentic source of Islam; the Qur’an originated from human source [s] or at best existing scriptures and not from Allah in the form of direct verbatim revelation to Prophet Muhammad [p] . This assertion is contrary to the internal evidence in the Qur’an, which is echoed in Hadeeth as well. Furthermore, it also implies that that the Prophet’s pronouncements about the divine origin of the Qur’an were untrue, a matter which was negated earlier in the paper in view of the prophet’s undisputed truthfulness and integrity.


2. Historians admit that the similarity between two compositions does not necessarily imply that the later must have copied from the earlier. Both compositions may have been based of a third common source.25 An example of that in Biblical studies is the “synoptic” problem which attempts to explain the similarities between the three “synoptic gospels”, Mark, Matthew and Luke. According to the Qur’an, Allah is the One Common Source of all revelations given to His prophets, and hence the similarities in their teachings


3. Similarities between successive revelations to different prophets do not disqualify any of them as a genuine and truthful prophet of Allah, nor do they disprove that all prophets received direct revelation from Allah. After all, the genuineness of Prophet Jesus [p] cannot be negated or even questioned because most of his teachings are “parallels” to previous Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, he did make explicit mention of previous scriptures to show the continuity and consistency of the core message of Allah, just as the Qur’an did. 26 In fact, there are similarities between some Judaic teachings and the teaching of ancient religions like Hinduism such as many aspects of moral law. Such parallels do not mean that Prophet Moses [p] and all other Israelite prophets were copying from one another or from other human sources rather than being all inspired by The One and Only Divine source; Allah. The Qur’an affirms:

Surely We [Allah] sent revelation unto you [O Muhammad] as We did upon Noah and the prophets after him, and as We sent r sent revelation upon Abrahamand Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Aaron and Solomon, and as We gave David the Psalms” Qur’an, 4:163


4. “The “parallels” argument seems to place two types of “parallels” in the same bag; parallels relating to the core message of Allah which is at the heart of all divine revelations which were preserved intact and perceived parallels which not so in reality. The discussion focused so far on the first type of parallels. However, some of the perceived parallels are not parallels between two genuine revelations, but perceived parallels between the Qur’an and dogmas, theological concepts developed later on and influenced the interpretations of the Biblical text. For example, the story of Adam and Eve and the Forbidden Tree in both the Bible and the Qur’an may appear broadly to be the same. On a closer look, however they do not have the same implications or agree on crucial points or even “facts”. According to the Qur’an, Adam and Eve acknowledged their mistakes, prayed for forgiveness and were forgiven. As such, the Qur’an does not provide a basis for the notion of “original sin”, commonly founded on the Biblical version of the story. Likewise, the Qur’an blames both Adam and Eve equally for their infraction and does not consider women’s suffering during pregnancy and childbirth as punishment that is connected in any way with the “Forbidden Tree” story. 27


5. The Qur’an was revealed in piecemeal manner over a period of about 23 years. Often times, revelations came in response to an issue, a problem, a question or an event in the life of the community. It is totally unreasonable , if not impossible, to make a convincing argument that throughout this extended period, the Prophet [p] was learning from some secret teacher [s] and evading all the watchful eyes of his critics and detractors in such an open community without being “caught”, even once, while doing so and for a period of 23 years. In Madinah, the Prophet [p] was surrounded constantly by his followers and mostly in public, If he were learning from others, how could his closest companions continue to believe him when he continued to affirm that the Qur’an he recited was purely Allah’s revelations?. All attempts to “discover” or even speculate about that unseen teacher [s], to explain the source of the Qur’an, were proven futile, illogical and un-historical. 28


6. I t may be added also that the Prophet [p] was raised in a predominantly idolatrous society for the first 13 years of his mission. Before he immigrated to Madinah, where some Jewish tribes lived, the Qur’anic revelations in Makkah had already articulated Muslim beliefs and the Qur’anic core truths. He was in no need to learn from them or from others. In fact, some Qur’anic verses challenged their contentions and claimed to supersede some of their earlier revelations. More than one prominent learned Rabbi [such as Abdullah Ibn Salaam and Ka`b Al-Ahbaar] accepted him as prophet/teacher. 29


The Third Explanation: The Qur’an Is A Product Of Delusion; Epilepsy Or Religious Hallucinations.


It was contended that while the Prophet [p] was sincere and truthful, he probably suffered from epilepsy and it was during his epileptic seizures that he uttered what came to be the Qur’an. Reference is made sometimes to the reported state of the Prophet [p] at the times when he was visited by Archangel Gabriel to bring new revelations as reported in Hadeeth. Scientific developments in the study of epilepsy made this speculation utterly unscientific. Epileptic seizures occur because of disruption to the normal functioning of the brain. During epileptic seizures, generally speaking, the patient becomes incapable of sensible or even discernible speech. This is especially true of “generalized” seizures. 30


Once the epileptic seizure is over, the patient would have no memory of what happened to him or her during the seizure. None of the symptoms of other types of even partial seizures matches the state of the Prophet [P], whether during receiving revelations or at any other time. After revelation was completed, he remembered vividly every word of it as if it were ‘engraved on a stone”. It is true that many figures of history were famous and talented in spite of their suffering from epilepsy. This author is unaware of any historical precedent when any person made his most brilliant achievement because of his epilepsy and during its disabling seizures. This claim this is like claiming that Napoleon came up with his most brilliant war strategy during his epileptic seizures or that an epileptic artist painted his most brilliant drawings while going through the convulsions of epileptic seizures.


Equally untenable is to dismiss the contents of the Qur’an as religious delusion, hallucination or imaginations. Sometimes a good face is put on that contention such as praising the prophet for his pure innate nature that led him to be disenchanted with idolatry, injustice and moral corruption of his people, concerns that made him eager to help uplift his people. With these noble feeling he began to “convince himself” that he is the person to be entrusted by Allah to carry this responsibility. With the passage of time, these ideas began to “jell’ in his mind until it became a firm convictions at which time he began to imagine hearing voices from above and having “vision” relating to his prophetic role. In fact, one writer, Andrae Tor, speculated at length that the prophet probably had some “secret desire” to be famous. Yet, the same writer could not help but admit that the Prophet was not guilty of planning for his role as a prophet 31 It is noteworthy that some of the proponents of such theories are not necessarily atheists who do not believe in revelation let alone God, but persons who hail from Jewish or Christian backgrounds whose own faith is based on acceptance of divine revelation given to prophets in some form or the other. If they apply the same arguments to their own faiths, it may lead to the rejection of the prophethood of all prophets and perceiving them simply as good persons who were all deluded in thinking that Allah was revealing to them or guiding them. Imagine Prophet Moses being deluded that Allah spoke to him on Mount Sinai or gave him the Torah, or Prophet Jesus [p] imagining only that the “Father” revealed to him what he taught his people?. If revelation is mere illusion, then it must be applied across the board and not selectively. Similarly, if the phenomenon of revelation, beyond full human grasp as it may be, is accepted, then it should be accepted across the board as a reasonable phenomenon irrespective of debates about which part is original and which is interpretive, or which part was preserved intact and which was not.




This paper began with the definition of the issue under examination; who is the real author [s] of the Qur’an. The basic methodology was outlined. Such methodology was implemented by examining the internal and external evidence relating to the source [s] of the Qur’an. The textual evidence or internal evidence was both definitive and ample. External evidence seems to negate the most common explanations of the source [s] of the Qur’an. Negation, while helpful, may generate enough interest to find more positive and affirmative evidence from largely “neutral” sources, including certain discoveries related to history and other scientific discoveries made centuries after the “revelation” of the Qur’an. This will be, hopefully, the topic of another paper.



1. The Arabic term “Allah” is more correctly a proper name of God. In any case, it refers to the One and Only Creator, Sustainer and Cherisher of the Universe. It is the same term used to refer to God by Christian Arabs and is found also in Arabic Bibles. The term is strikingly similar to the Aramaic “Alaaha”, which also refers to God. From Muslim perspective, the Term Allah is preferable than God, not only because it is the proper name of God, but also because the term Allah is not subject to gender or plurality [linguistically]. The term Allah will be used throughout this paper.

2. [P] Is an abbreviation of “peace be upon him”, a formula that Muslims utter loudly or softly when the name of any prophet is mentioned.

3. See for example, Hart, Michael H., The 100: a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 2001. While Hart ranks Prophet Muhammad [p] as the most influential person in history, he does not seem to accept his prophet hood.

4. Hadeeth refers to the words, actions and approvals of Prophet Muhammad [p] in matters of faith and practice. It is believed to be a revelation in meaning but the words are those of the Prophet [p]. Sound [authentic] Hadeeth is the second most important source of Islam after the Qur’an.

5. Mukhtasar Sahih Muslim [compiled by Muslim Al-Naysaboori, summarized by Zakiyuddeen Al-Montheri and edited by Nasiruddeen Al-Albaani], 3rd printing, Al-Maktab Al-Islaami, Damascus, 1977. Hadeeth # 19, p.13.

6. Translation of the meaning of the Qur’an in this paper is mainly based on The Glorious Qur’an with English Commentary [Translated by Ali Ozek et al], 80th Edition, Why Islam, Piscataway, NJ, 2003. This author made some modifications for the sake of greater clarity.

7. See for example, Sahih Al-Bukhari [compiled by Muhammad Isma`il Al-Bukhari and translated by Muhammad Khan], Maktabat Al-Riyadh Al-Hadeethah, Riyadh, 1981, Vol.1, Hadeeth # 2- 5, pp. 2-6.

8. References to these issues in the Qur’an include 81:8 and 5:93. One of the most valuable references in pursuing this line of questioning is Draz, Muhammad A., Al-Naba’ al-Adheem, Dar al-Qalam, Kuwait, 1970. I am indebted to Dr. Drazo this issue.

9. At the age of forty, when the Prophet began to the public call to Islam, when he asked his people if they would trust him if he were to tell them that there is an army behind the mountain getting ready to invade them, they answered “we never experienced you telling a lie”. This clearly shows why they consistently gave him the nickname “The truthful” or “ the trustworthy” . See Muhammad Abu Zahrah, Khaatam Al-Nabiyyeen[p], Dar Al-Fikr Al-Arabi, Cairo, 1972, Vol. 1, pp.431-432.

10. See for example, Michael A. Sells, Approaching the Qur’an: The early Revelation, White Cloud Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2000.

11. The Makkans sent one of their most eloquent men, Utbah, to speak with the Prophet [p]. After listening to a few verses from the Qur’an, Utbah went back to his people, “they were struck by the change of expression on his face”. When asked what happened to him he answered, “I heard utterance the like of which I never yet heard. It is not poetry, by God, neither is it sorcery nor soothsaying..”, see Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, Islamic Texts Society and George Allen & Erwin, London, 1983, pp. 60-61.

12 . See Muhammad Abu Zahrah, Khaatam Al-Nabiyyeen[p], Op Cit., Vol. 1, p.175.

13. Sahih Al-Buhkari, Op.Cit. Hadeeth # 3A, pp.2-4.

14. AI-Nawawi, Riyadh Al- Saliheen, Dar Al-Warraq, Riyadh, 1991, Hadeeth # 492.

15. Ibid, Hadeeth # 491 and 493

16. Ibid, Hadeeth # 495

177. Ibid, Hadeeth # 507

18. Ibid, Hadeeth # 504

19. Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources ,Op.Cit., P.44.

20. The Qur’an, Op. Cit., 73:1-5 and 74:1-7.

21. Muhammad Abu Zahrah, Khaatam Al-Nabiyyeen[p], Op.Cit., P.537.

22. Shih Al-Bukhari, Op.Cit, Hadeeth # 3A and 3B, pp.2-5.

23. The Qur’an, Op. Cit., 29:48.

24. A.L. Tibawi, English Speaking Orientalists, The Islamic Centre, Geneva, Switzerland, 1965, P.17.

25. Montgomery Watt, Islam and the Integration of Society, London, 1961, p.263 cited in Tibawi, Op.Cit. p.22.

26. Tibawi, Op.Cit, p.22.

27. The story of the “forbidden tree” appears in both the Bible [Genesis , Chapter 3] and

In the Qur’an [e.g. 2:35-37, 7:19-25, 20:120-122].

28. The Qur’an alludes to the futility of the Makkans’ attempts to “find” any potential “teacher” who might have taught all this knowledge to Muhammad [p] in more than one place. See for example The Qur’an, Op. Cit., 23:69 and 16:103.

29. Muhammad Ibn Sa`d, Al-Tabaqaat Al-Kobra, Dar Saader, Beirut, 1985, Vol. 1, pp.360-363.

30. Walker, Matthew C. and Shorvon, Simon, Understanding Epilepsy, Family Doctor Publication Limited in association with the British medical Association, 2006. It is interesting to note that the authors include the name of Prophet Muhammad [P] among the names of other famous “epileptic” historical figures including Julius Caesar, St. Paul, Buddha, Alexander the Great and Joan of Arc [P.1]. When discussing the varieties of partial and generalized forms of epileptic seizures, they fail to match any of them with any authentic report about Prophet Muhammad [P], or any of the listed persons in their introduction for that matter. They speak, however, with authority as clinical neurologists, not as historians or theologians, let alone with any basic knowledge about the Prophet of Islam. They simply repeat similar unverified statements repeated by some Western scholars and uncritically accepted.

31. Andrae Tor, Mohammed: The Man and His Faith [translated by Theophil Menzel], Harper and Row, NY, 1995 [Revised Edition], p.94



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