The corruption of 53:2-4

"Your friend (Muhammad) was not astray, nor was he deceived.

Nor was he speaking out of a personal desire. It was divine inspiration"

53:2-4

These words in the beginning of Sura 53 (Al-Najm) have been subject to great misinterpretation. We have seen how the followers of hadith when faced with the fact that the hadith and sunna of Muhammad have no Quranic reference nor legality to be upheld as a second source of law beside the Quran, have twisted the meaning of the word Hikmah (which means wisdom in all dictionaries), and instead claimed that it refers to the sunna of Muhammad.

For more details please see: The word Hikmah in the Quran

Similarly, and driven by the same motives, they have also twisted the meaning of verses 2-4 in Sura 53. What they claim is that the words "It was divine inspiration" indicate that every word spoken by Muhammad in his life time (or at least since he started receiving the revelation at the age of 40) is to be regarded as being divine inspiration. As a result of this false claim, they preach that all Muslims must obey every word spoken by the Prophet, whether it is Quran or his personal sayings (hadith).

It is the purpose of this research to verify this claim against Quranic and historical evidence:

First:

From a linguistic point of view, we note that God says "In Huwa ila wahe yuha" 53:4 ..... this literally translates to (It is nothing but inspiration being inspired). the word "Huwa" is a key word in this verse, it literally means 'it', but that is not all. The word 'it' in English does not give a gender, 'it' could refer to a masculine or a feminine equally. However, in Arabic the word "Huwa" refers to the masculine (as opposed to the word Hiya which refers to the feminine). The word "Huwa" here refers to the Quran which is masculine in gender.

What all this means is that in this verse, God is specifically speaking about the inspiration of the Quran to Muhammad. God is not speaking about every word uttered by Muhammad!

Second:

The genuine believer in the Quran would always accept the Quranic verdict as the only absolute uncorrupted truth, but sadly, many among the Muslims place the hadith above the Quran, and so they should know what does their hadith say about the Prophet's forbidding of writing his own hadith. The following hadith are examples:

"The prophet said: "Do not write down anything from me except the Quran. Whoever wrote other than that should delete it." [Sahih Muslim, Book 42, Number 7147, also Ahmed, Vol. 1, Page 171]

Abu huraira said that the prophet said, "The 'Ummam' (nations/peoples) that preceded you have gone astray when they wrote books and upheld them besides God's scripture" (Ahmed Ibn Hanbal).

The same message is documented in other Islamic references of repute:

"Abu Huraira said: The messenger of God came to us while we were writing his sayings and said: "What is it you are writing?" we said "sayings (hadith) we hear from you messenger of God" he said, "A book other than God's book?" then Abu Huraira said, "so we gathered what we had written and burnt it all" (Taqyeed Al-Ilm, by Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdady) also (Oloom Al-Hadith, by Ibn Salah).

The question that arises after reading such words from the Prophet, is whether the Prophet regarded his personal words to be divinely inspired or not. The fact that the Prophet forbade his followers from writing his sayings and personal words confirms that he did not regard these to be divinely inspired, and that he regarded the Quran to be the only inspired revelation.

In an attempt to counter this strong argument, the followers of hadith explain that it is true that the Prophet prohibited the writing of his own hadith, but they quickly add that this command only applied to the very early years of the revelation! They explain that the Prophet gave such instructions because the Quran was in its early days of revelation and that he was worried that his own sayings would be mixed with the Quran!

However, this claim can be exposed due to the following matters:

1- When the revelation first started coming to the Prophet he was in Mecca. This continued for thirteen years before the Prophet immigrated to Medina to escape the persecution of the idolatrous Meccan leaders. During these 13 difficult years, documenting what the messenger said in conversation was not an issue of prime matter. The believers at the time, who were still a small persecuted minority, were more concerned with securing their personal safety and the safety of the Prophet.

Historic indications suggest that the prohibition by the Prophet to write his sayings took place in Medina and around the seventh year A.H. (long after the revelations started coming).

2- When we analyse the claim that the Prophet prohibited writing his hadith only in the beginning so that it is not confused with the Quran, we note a serious problem. In Sura 15, verse 9 we read that God pledges to preserve the Quran against all corruption. This Sura is a Meccan Sura, or in other words, it was revealed before the immigration to Medina and the subsequent prohibition of writing the hadith.

The pressing question here is:

Did Muhammad not trust in God's promise, and indeed ability, to preserve the Quran? If Muhammad did believe God's promise, which is what we expect a Prophet would do, would he still be worried that his own hadith would be mixed or confused with God's revelation which was preserved by God?

3- The claim that the prohibition by the Prophet concerned only the early days of Quranic revelation does not explain why all the four Khulafa Al-Rashedeen (Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman and Ali) all maintained the prohibition after the death of the prophet and allowed no one to write any hadith about the prophet.

The following are some historic accounts:

1- Al-Sayedah A'esha (one of the wives of the Prophet) said that her father (Abu Bakr) gathered 500 hadith from people and burnt them all. (Tazkerat Al-Hafez Al-Zahaby part 1, page 5).

2- Orwa Ibn Al-Zubair said that Omar prohibited the writing of any hadith from the Prophet and declared "There shall be no book besides God's book" (Ga' me Bayan Al-ilm, part 1, page 65).

3- Both Abu Bakr and Omar used to advise the people to avoid telling tales about the Prophet. In one of his speeches Abu Bakr addressed the people saying: "you tell stories about the Prophet and you dispute among one another in the details. The people who will come after you will undoubtedly dispute even more, therefore do not tell any tales about the Prophet. If you should be asked, say between us and you is God's book, therefore make halal (lawful) what is halal in the book and prohibit what is prohibited therein." (Tazkerat Al-Hafez Al-Zahaby).

4- When Osman became the ruler he maintained the prohibition. The same continued under the leadership of Ali. In one of his speeches Ali said: "I urge any of you who possesses any writings about the Prophet to destroy it, verily, the people went astray before you when they upheld the teachings of their scholars and abandoned God's book" (Sunann Al-Darami).

5- The prohibition of writing the hadith stood for a period of two centuries after Hijra. Out of the hadith collections we have today, and which are labelled 'sahih' (authentic), Bukhari's collection was the first to be documented. It is interesting to know that Bukhari was born in the year 194 A.H.! Once again, this confirms that the prohibition to write hadith continued long after the prophet died.

Third:

If the claim that all that the Prophet uttered was inspired, then why do we find numerous contradictions between hadith and another, and also between hadith and many Quranic verses? Would God inspire to Muhammad contradictions? The following are some of the more obvious contradictions between hadith and Quran:

1- God commands the Prophet to declare that he does not know his own destiny nor the destiny of the people:

"Say (O Muhammad), "I am not different from other messengers. I have no idea what will happen to me or to you. I only follow what is revealed to me. I am no more than a profound warner" 46:9

"Say (O Muhammad), "Whether God decides to annihilate me and those with me, or to shower us with mercy, who is there to protect the disbelievers from a painful retribution?" 67:28

In spite of these clear assurances that Muhammad does not know the destiny of anyone, including himself, we read many hadith attributed to the Prophet in which it is claimed that he knew the destiny of some of his followers and told them that they were destined for heaven.

2- God also commands Muhammad to declare that he does not know the future (Al-Ghaib) and that this knowledge is with God alone:

"Say (O Muhammad), "I do not say to you that I possess the treasures of God. Nor do I know the future. Nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I simply follow what is revealed to me." Say, "Is the blind the same as the seer? Do you not reflect?" 6:50

"Say (O Muhammad), "No one in the heavens and the earth knows the future except God. They do not even perceive how or when they will be resurrected." 27:65

In spite of these clear assurances, we read many hadith in which it is claimed that Muhammad went on to describe and predict many future events and also details of the hereafter!

Needless to say, the Prophet of God would not contradict the commands given to him by God. Consequently, we must discard all these hadith as lies attributed to the Prophet of which he is innocent.

3- God commands Muhammad to declare that he has no knowledge of the end of the world:

"The people ask you (O Muhammad) about the Hour (end of the world). Say, "The knowledge thereof is only with God. For all that you know, the Hour may be close." 33:63

Yet, we read numerous hadith where it is claimed that the Prophet went on to give detailed prophecies about the coming of the end of the world, e.g. when the sun rises from the west, when the people of the world all walk naked .... etc, etc.

4- God also commands the Prophet to declare that there will be no intercession on Judgement Day (see 6:51, 6:94, 7:53, 39:44, 2:254).

Yet once again we read numerous hadith that contradict this Quranic truth, and whereby it is alleged that Muhammad declared that he will intercede for his people on Judgement Day!

5- We are told in the Quran very clearly that the authority to make law is exclusively with God:

"Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?" 6:114

"They follow idols who decree for them religious laws never authorised by God. If it were not for the predetermined decision, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the transgressors have incurred a painful retribution" 42:21

Sadly, we read many fabricated hadith in which it is claimed that Muhammad played the role of the law maker! Examples of this type are many. e.g. the prophet prohibited men from wearing gold and silk, the prophet prohibiting music and art, the prophet advocating the killing of all black dogs .... etc, etc.

God in His Infinite Wisdom knows that there will come a time when the idol worshippers will make Muhammad a partner with God as a second law Maker, therefore God included the following significant reminder in the Quran:

"O you Prophet, why do you prohibit what God has made lawful, just to please your wives? God is Forgiver, Merciful" 66:1

One interpretation of this verse states that the prophet had once prohibited a certain item following a domestic dispute. Since this item was not prohibited by God, he was immediately reprimanded by God.

The incident or its details are not of significant importance except that it is a clear reminder for all sincere believers that God alone is the Law Maker, and that Muhammad or any other messenger is not authorised to make law.

Needless to say, all the fabricated hadith that portray the Prophet as a law maker must by rejected and exposed as blatant lies against the Prophet.

_____________

From all the above examples it becomes evident that the claim that all that the Prophet uttered was inspired by God is utterly false. How can the Prophet be inspired in all he uttered when it is full of contradictions? How can these fabricated lies ever be attributed to the Prophet? How can millions of Muslims worldwide believe these tales that completely contradict the Quranic truth?

Fourth:

We are told in the Quran that the messenger of God is infallible in the message he delivers but that he is fallible in his own personal words:

"Say, "If I go astray, I go astray because of my own shortcomings. And if I am guided, it is because of my Lord's inspiration. He is Hearer, Near" 34:50

The message in this Quranic verse is clear: The messenger is infallible only in the inspiration he receives from God, and he is fallible in his own personal views/sayings ... etc.

What this proves yet again is not everything uttered by the Prophet is inspiration. If every word uttered by Muhammad was divine inspiration how can Muhammad have shortcomings as 34:50 states?

To further assert this important issue, God has deliberately informed us in the Quran about six different incidents where the prophet was at fault and where God reprimands the prophet for these mistakes. These are found in (8:67-68, 9:43, 9:113-114, 33:37, 66:1 and 80:1-11). We read God's reprimand to the Prophet in each of these six occasions. Clearly, if everything uttered by the prophet was inspired he would not have been at fault in any of these occasions. Surely, God would not inspire to the Prophet errors, then reprimand him for committing them!

We must also understand that God does not include these six cases of reprimand for the sake of belittling His own Prophet, but God includes these incidents in the Quran so that the reader of the Quran would be asserted that Muhammad was a human being like all humans and that he is thus prone to make mistakes like all humans. Sadly, the ones who are intent on idolising Muhammad and making an infallible god-like figure out of him cannot see the wisdom of these incidents! They continue to disregard clear Quranic truth! They continue to say that every word uttered by the Prophet was divine inspiration!

Fifth:

It has also been claimed that Muhammad received other revelations from God besides the Quran. They quote as an example the information Muhammad received about one of his wives (66:3). They add that the details of this information is not given in the Quran and therefore this proves that Muhammad received other revelations from God besides the Quran.

The error in this understanding is obvious. What they are confusing here is the difference between inspiration and revelation.
A revelation is a scripture given to various Prophets and is decreed to be followed by all believers. However, there can also be personal inspiration that is given to any messenger which is independent of the scripture. No doubt, just like all other messengers of God, Muhammad received various pieces of inspiration in connection to various incidents and events.

Inspiration from God can be given to any human and not just the messengers of God.
We are told how God inspired the mother of Moses for example to throw her baby in the river and not to fear (28:7). The mother of Moses was not a messenger, and what she received from God was inspiration but not revelation.

Similarly, when God inspired various pieces of personal information to Muhammad they were meant for his own benefit (not revelation). When God told Muhammad what his wives said (66:3), and which Muhammad had no way of knowing if God did not tell him, this was inspiration given to Muhammad but not revelation.
It is not information that we need to know to be able to follow Islam, it is not a revelation.

The Quran asserts that the only revelation Muhammad received from God was the Quran. It is for this that God instructs Muhammad in 6:19 to bear witness that he received the Quran from God.
The words in 6:19 do not include receiving his hadith in the form of revelation from God!
We and all other believers are commanded to follow the revelation (scripture) sent by God to Muhammad (Quran), we are not commanded to follow pieces of personal inspiration given to Muhammad or others.

Conclusion:

The inspiration referred to in 53:2-4 refers solely to the Quran which was revealed to Muhammad. The Quran was not the fabrication of Muhammad as his enemies claimed! The word “It” (huwa) refers only to the Quran inspired by God and revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. The words in 53:2-4 do not refer to every word uttered by Muhammad.