The corruption of 53:2-4

Your friend was not misguided nor was he deceived,
nor does he speak out of personal desire.
It is but a revelation being revealed.

53:2-4

These words in the beginning of Sura 53 (Al-Najm) have been subject to great misinterpretation. We have seen how the promoters of hadith, finding no mention in the Quran of the hadith and sunna of Muhammad, attempted to manipulate the meaning of various words and verses. One such example is the manipulation of the word 'hikmah'.

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 is but a revelation being revealed" speak of every word spoken by Muhammad from the time he started receiving the revelation until his death. They claim that every word Muhammad uttered is to be regarded as being divine revelation! 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 in the light of the Quranic and also against historical evidence.

First:

We read in 53:4 the words: "Inn huwa ila wahyun yuha" 53:4. These words translate to: "it is but a revelation being revealed". The word "huwa" (it) is a key word in this verse. The word 'it' in English does denote a gender. The word 'it' could refer to a masculine or a feminine noun equally. However, in Arabic the word "huwa" refers to the masculine, while the word 'hiya' refers to the feminine. The word "huwa" in this verse refers to the Quran which is masculine in gender.
What 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!
We have in the following Quranic words clear evidence that the revelation mentioned in 53:3 is the Quran and nothing else:

Say (O Muhammad), "What thing is the greatest testimony?" Say, "God is Witness between me and you that this Quran has been revealed to me to warn you with it and whomever it reaches. Do you bear witness that there are other gods besides God?" Say, "I do not bear witness". Say, "He is but One God and I am innocent of the shirk which you commit." 6:19

The words above leaves us in no doubt regarding what was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. We do not see mention of any revelation mentioned in this verse other than the Quran. Is it conceivable that Muhammad's hadith was a revelation from God, yet God instructs him to make a testimony that only the Quran was revealed to him from God? Considering that God called this "the greatest testimony", could it be that "the greatest testimony" is an incomplete testimony?

Second:

The genuine believer in the Quran would always accept the Quranic verdict as the only absolute uncorrupted truth. However, many Muslims sadly place the hadith above the Quran, and so they should know what their hadith says 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).

"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 revelation or in any way divinely inspired? 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.

To counter this strong argument, the hadith scholars 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 the Prophet was worried that his own sayings would be mixed with the Quran!

The following points expose this claim:

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.

According to historic records, the prohibition by the Prophet to write his sayings took place in Medina around the seventh year A.H. which would be 21 years after the beginning of the revelation. It follows that the claim that the prohibition applied only to the early days of the Quranic revelation becomes invalid, simply because the prohibition by the Prophet was not issued in the early days of the revalation, but after 21 years.

2- When we analyse the claim that the prohibition was meant only for the early days, so that it would not be mixed up with the Quran, we note aother serious problem. In Sura 15, verse 9 we read that God gives a promise to preserve the Quran against all corruption. Sura 15 is a Meccan Sura, and thus it was revealed before the immigration to Medina and the subsequent prohibition of writing the hadith.

The pressing question here is:

Did Prophet 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 up 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 the 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.

1- Al-Sayedah Aisha (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. Among the six hadith collections we have today, labelled 'sahih' (authentic), is Bukhari's collection. Bukhari was first to be born out of the six collectors, born in the year 194 A.H. and his collection was the first to be documented of the six. Once again, this confirms that the prohibition to write hadith continued long after the Prophet died.

Third:

To claim that all words spoken by the Prophet were divinely inspired does not explain 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 numerous 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 a novelty among other messengers, nor do I know what will happen to me or to you." 46:9

In spite of these 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 at least 10 of his followers and that he told them that they were destined for Paradise! This is found in the hadith knows as "The 10 foretold of Paradise".

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 the treasures of God are in my possession nor do I know the unseen nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me." Say, "Is the blind and the seer the same? Do you not reflect?" 6:50

Say (O Muhammad), "No one in the heavens and the earth knows the unseen except God. They are unaware as to when they will be resurrected." 27:65

In spite of these clear assurances, we read many hadith in which it is claimed that Muhammad described and predicted many future events with great details, including the details related to Judgement Day and 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 commanded Muhammad to declare that he has no knowledge of the end of the world:

The people ask you (O Muhammad) about the Hour, say, "The knowledge thereof is only with God. For all you know, the Hour may be imminent." 33:63

Yet, we read numerous hadith where it is claimed that the Prophet proclaimed very detailed prophecies about the coming of the end of the world,such as, when the sun rises from the west, when the people of the world all walk naked and many others.

4- God also commanded 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, 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 law maker, when He has revealed to you this Book fully detailed? 6:114

Or do they have 'shuraka' (partners) who legislate for them religious laws which were not authorised by God? If it were not for a decisive decree, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed the transgressors shall have a painful punishment. 42:21

In contrast, we read many hadith in which it is claimed that Muhammad played the role of the law maker! Examples of this type are many. Some claim that the Prophet prohibited men from wearing gold and silk, that he prohibiting music and art, that he instructed the killing of all black dogs, and many others.

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 for you, seeking to please your wives? God is Forgiver, Merciful" 66:1

One interpretation of this verse states that the Prophet 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 the words in 66:1 provide a clear reminder to all sincere believers that God is the only law maker, and that Muhammad or any other messenger is not authorised to make law.

Therefore, 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 (O Muhammad), "If I stray then I stray to my own loss, and if I am guided, it is by what my Lord inspires to me. He is Hearer, Near." 34:50

What the word "If I stray then I stray to my own loss" tell us is that there were times when the Prophet was not inspired by God, and thus could stray. They also tell us that he was only guided by means of what God inspired to him. If every word the Prophet uttered was inspired by God then then the selected sentence would make little sense!

Further confirmation that not every word uttered by Muhammad was divine inspiration is in the fact that God reprimanded Muhammad on six different occasions for errors he made. 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 by God 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 was prone to make mistakes like all humans. Sadly, the ones who are intent on idolising Muhammad and making him infallible cannot understand the wisdom of these Quranic reprimands!

Fifth:

It has also been claimed that Muhammad received other revelations from God besides the Quran. Among the cases they put forward is the information Muhammad received about one of his wives (66:3). They state 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 to deliver to his people. However, there can also be personal inspiration that is given to any person, messengers and oridnary people alike. This inspiration is totally different from a revelation. No doubt, just like all other messengers of God, Muhammad received various pieces of inspiration in connection to various incidents and events.

As mentioned, inspiration from God can be given to any human and not just the messengers of God.
We read in 28:7 that God "inspired" the mother of Moses to throw her baby in the river and not to fear. 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 informed Muhammad of 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.
This kind of inspired information was for the personal benefit of Muhammad only. It was not information that is required by believers in order to practice Islam.

The Quran asserts that the only revelation Muhammad received from God was the Quran (6:19).


Conclusion:

The inspiration referred to in 53:2-4 refers solely to the Quran which was revealed to Muhammad. What these glorious say is that the Quran was not the fabrication of Muhammad as his enemies claimed! The word "It" (huwa) in 53:4 refers only to the Quran which was revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. The words in 53:2-4 do not refer to every word uttered by Muhammad.