The Muslim man you meet in the street purports the Qur’an to be a straightforward “perfect” revelation from God to man. Yet the facts tell a different story. According to Muslim authorities there are roughly seven evolutionary steps through which today’s Qur’an was given: 1) Starting at some undetermined time with Allah [i]; 2) delivered through an angel [ii]; 3) to Muhammad [iii]; 4) was written down on rocks, dried leaves, and bark by the “hands of noble and righteous scribes [iv];” 5) then, selected readings were rewritten by Muhammad’s companions [v]; 6) again, rewritten in various stages to add the diacritical marks to clarify words, distinguish gender, and modernize the text with verse and chapter markings [vi]; 7) finally, today we have many new “meanings” of the Qur’an [vii]. The Qur’an has been in constant transition since its inception, and there seems to be a new version coming out every year. Due to the many hands in the whole affair, it no surprise that the first Qur’an is unavailable despite the fact that the message is a fairly recent religious compilation. We therefore cast serious doubt that an original Qur’an ever existed in Muhammad’s day; we otherwise deduce the earliest protectors of Islam failed to secure a reliable copy for us to view. The scribes have therefore left us no choice but to question the genuineness of the current manuscript being distributed in our midst.
To shake things up further, we know Muhammad himself thought that his message was sent by someone “terrible in power.” Yet the Qur’an purports in another place that a “faithful spirit” gave it to him. In later traditions the means of inspiration is generally spoken of as an “angel.” It is not henceforth known through what agency Muhammad believed himself to be inspired, the Holy Spirit (a ghostly representation of Allah) or the seraph Gabriel. Sometimes we find Muhammad seeking refuge from or pleading for deliverance from this psychological terror. Furthermore, Muhammad could not distinguish the voice of Allah from that of Satan [viii]; as a result he became afraid or anxious at various episodes of his ministry. This sort of confusion brought the fear-filled prophet to a point that he ultimately felt it best to use the sword and to shed blood to prove he was God’s man [ix].
There is one more interesting aspect to consider: A fundamental teaching of Islam is that no one should be allowed to read the holy book unless he does so in Quraysh tribal dialect, a dead language no longer spoken in the modern world. The reason, so say the scholars, is that this dialect is supposed to be the language of the Hereafter regardless with which tongue the adherent was born [x].
In fact, all Muslims are encouraged to memorize the Qur’an in its original form whether he understands it or not. It is fascinating that later on the book was translated into hundreds of languages. We believe this is so simply due to the fact that the Bible proved long ago to be remarkably effective being translated into more than eighteen hundred languages; for that reason Islam desires to make similar advances throughout the world. Indeed, Islam is the chief imitator of biblical Christianity rivaling other sub-christian cults such as the popular Mormon movement.
Practically speaking the only peculiarity that distinguishes Islam from other trendy religious groups is its propensity to commit worldwide terrorism from which the concept of suicidal martyrdom is derived. Suicidal martyrdom is a telltale sign that frustrated Muslims feel a need to return to bloodshed, not love or the intellect, to make its point.
[iii] About six centuries had past after the death and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ when Muhammad was given the first recitation. Sometimes the Qur’an came to Muhammad through strange noises or through seizures similar to those of an epileptic. Initially, Muhammad thought that he was receiving messages from demons (Muhammad Husayn Haykal: Life of Muhammad. Indianapolis: North American Trust, © 1974, p. 74ff).
[iv] Surah 80:15-16. The scribes apparently wrote some of the verses on whatever materials they could find, but committed other verses to memory. A footnote on this Surah ( page 1898) located in the King Fahd translation of the Holy Qur’an (printed in Al-Madinah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) states that through the third Khalifa (circa 650 A.D.) numerous critical revisions of the Qur’an were made to incorporate the most plausible elements found in varying sources.
[v] Surah 80:15-16. The scribes apparently wrote some of the verses on whatever materials they could find, but committed other verses to memory. A footnote on this Surah ( page 1898) located in the King Fahd translation of the Holy Qur’an (printed in Al-Madinah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) states that through the third Khalifa (circa 650 A.D.) numerous critical revisions of the Qur’an were made to incorporate the most plausible elements found in varying sources. The Qur’an was not a complete book at the time of Muhammad; in fact, it was compiled by order of Caliph abu Bakr approximately after Muhammad’s death. Anas ibn Malik, an early follower, relates that he was “shocked” at the variances of the Qur’an found here and there on rocks, dried leaves, and bark. ‘Usman (Othman or Uthaman) ordered the Qur’ans he didn’t agree with to be burned. Both he and Zaid ibn Sābit differed about the variances of the Qur’an which apparently showed an early corruption.
[vi] Sayed Ahmad Khan admits the marks were refined and changed over time until the Qur’an could be standardized (Essays of the Life of Muhammad. Lahore: Premier Book House, © 1968, p. 252). I own seven variations of the Qur’an in my book collection. Modern commentators insert additional words not found in the original text to clarify and update the Qur’an. Unfortunately these insertions reflect the presuppositions and preconceived views of the commentators, and they vary substantially.
[vii] The Shi’a sect of Islam contends that ‘Usman purposely left out certain parts of the Qur’an to suit his own liking toward Ali, a hero of the Shi’ah. Thus not all Muslims accept the same version of the Qur’an. Sunni Muslims accept only the Sahī tradition of Masud as authoritative. Moreover, the ibn Masud Codex has a multitude of variations from the ‘Usman era. In the second Surah alone there are nearly 150 variations. It has taken archeologist, Arthur Jeffrey, some ninety-four pages to show the variations between the two. Some variations include omission of words and whole sentences. The uneven flow of the Qur’an indicates that it was the edited patchwork of a later writer(s), probably a combination of Abu Bakr, Uthman ibn Affan, Zaid ibn Sābit, and ‘Umar. Tradition does not shed enough light to determine the cause of the many discrepancies, but they may have been due to the numerous contributors and diverse dialects of Arabia they may have sprung up naturally in the already vast domains of Islam. Ibn Abbas says that the Qur’an was delivered to Muhammad in one dialect and recited in another until the number of versions increased. The Qur’an was first given to Muhammad’s own Quraysh dialect but when the prophet saw that the people of other nearby tribes had difficulty reciting it he allowed it to be spoken in all the tongues. Hence, many versions ran rampant until uniformity could be later agreed upon. There are even different versions of the Qur’an in Arabic as documented by Samuel Green. See http://www.answering-islam.org/Green/seven.htm.
[viii] Compare Surah 22 with Surah 53. The “Satanic Verses” made famous through Salmon Rushdie’s 1988 novel of the same name. In summary, Muhammad was supposedly tricked by Satan into revealing part of the Qur’an and then later the Muslim Prophet removed it. The “Satanic Verses” allow for prayers of intercession to be made to three Meccan goddesses and the story is corroborated by at least two early Islamic historians, Al-Waqidi (d. 822 A.D.) and Al-Tabari (d. 923 A.D.).
[ix] Muhammad had sanctioned at least eight wars in his lifetime as documented by Sayyid Ameenul Hasan Rizvi in his book, Battles By The Prophet (Abul Qasim Publishing House). Approximately a century after Muhammad’s death, the Islamic imperial conquests totaled fifty-six battles including sieges upon the Christian sites of Jerusalem and Constantinople.