Replies to the Claims of Contradiction in the Quran
By : A. Muhammad
It is true that verses 3:42-45 speak of several angels, while verses 19:17-21 speak of only one angel (Gabriel), however by reading these verses carefully we note that they speak of different events that took place at different times.
A- We read in 3:44:
You were not with them when they tossed their pens to select who will be Mary’s guardian, and you were not with them when they quarrelled.
These verses (3:42-45) are related to the time when a guardian was chosen to look after Mary, and thus a time when Mary was still a child and at an age where a guardian was needed. This was a time well before the actual conception and birth of Jesus. At that time, we are told that the angels (in plural) foretold Mary the good news about the future birth of Jesus.
The angels said, "O Mary, God gives you news of a Word from Him whose name is the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, distinguished in this world and in the Hereafter, and among those brought near. 3:45
However, in 19:17-21, we read about the time of the conception of Jesus inside Mary's womb. At that time Mary was no longer a child but grown up and at an age where conception and child bearing was possible. The role of announcing the conception to Mary was specifically asigned to Gabriel. We read in 19:19 how Gabriel told Mary that he was sent specifically by Almighty God to grant her a pure child:
He (Gabriel) said, "I am but the messenger of your Lord, to grant you a pure son." 19:19
After reading these verses it becomes evident that the assumed contradiction is a direct result of the author's poor understanding of the Quran.
This claim is also based on poor understanding of 6:22-24.
And on the Day when We summon them all, We will ask those who committed shirk, "Where are your partners for whom you made such claims?"
Then in their confusion, their response will be nothing other than to say, "By God our Lord, we never were mushrikeen."
See how they lied about themselves! That which they fabricated has deserted them. 6:22-24
The words: "By God our Lord, we were never mushrikeen (idol worshipers)" and also the words: "See how they lied about themselves" are of great significance to the meaning of these verses. These words do not mean that the idol worshippers are hiding their sin from God! These words tell us that the idol worshippers will always vehemently deny that they are idol worshippers. They are entrapped in their sin to the extent that they cannot see that they are in fact committing idol worship! They are not hiding anything, rather, they are oblivious of the sin they are committing.
Having made this point, reading 4:42 does not present any contradiction.
On that day, those who disbelieved and disobeyed the messenger will wish that they were level with the ground; they will not be able to conceal any utterance from God. 4:42
The idol worshippers are not able to hide anything from God on Judgment Day, for everything they have done and every "any utterance" is recorded and written.
To expose this false claim, it is necessary first to state that the name of Prophet Muhammad is not mentioned anywhere in this Sura. How the author of this claim related the matter to times before and after Muhammad is unjustified.
Verses 7 to 56 of Sura 56 tell us that on Judgment Day people will be divided into three groups.
A- The Elite: They are many of the early generations, and few from the later generations (verses 13-14).
These verses state that the early generations, who are the contemporary followers and supporters of every messenger (not only Muhammad), have a special place reserved for them in Paradise because they are the ones who suffered persecution from the traditionalists and adherents of the corrupted religion.
B- Those of the right side (verse 27): This group includes the rest of the believers who could be from any era. Their distribution is evenly spread over all eras. In (verses 39-40) we are told that they are many of the early generations as well as of later generations.
C- Those of the left side (verse 41): These are the disbelievers and idol worshippers who will dwell in Hell.
The assumed contradiction between verses 13-14 and between 39-40 is non existent since these two pairs of verses speak of different groups of people.
To demonstrate the irrational nature of this claim, let us consider the following information which is given in two sentences:
Sentence 1: There are three cars in the garage, one on the right, one on the left and one in the front.
Sentence 2: The one on the right is green, the one on the left is black.
Can we say that since the 2nd sentence speaks only of two cars, then there is only 2 cars in the garage? Or, can we say that there is a contradiction between the 2 sentences? The answer is no.
When we examine verses in the Quran that may be a subject of such false claim, we find an example in 56:7-10
You will be sorted into three groups.
Now when we read 90:17-20:
Then to be one of those who believed and encouraged one another to exercise patience and encouraged one another to show compassion.
These are the companions of the Right.
As for those who disbelieved in Our revelations, they are the companions of the Left.
Over them is an enclosed fire. 90:17-20
We note that 90:18 speaks of the group described in 56:8. while 90:19 speaks of those described in 56:9. Nowhere do we read in this Surah that these two groups will be the only groups on the day.
Furthermore, when we read the other verses that are referred to and are supposed to be in contradiction to 56:7, and they are 99:7-8, we see that they do not talk of any groups as such. These are the words:
Whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it. 99:7
And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it. 99:8
These words say on Judgment Day we will be accountable for everything that we have done, there is no mention of any groups of people here.
Let us read 4:18
Not acceptable is the repentance of those who commit bad deeds until death comes to one of them, then he says, "Now I have repented." 4:18
If one repents just because one feels death near, it will not be acceptable of them. We are given a whole life time to submit to God Almighty. Repentance at the time of death is nothing more than fear, for at death we are made to know instinctively that God alone is Lord. But by then it is too late!
Consequently, when Pharaoh was drowning and knew he was dying and he repented, it was not accepted from him.
The claim of the author that in verses 10:90-92 Pharaoh was forgiven is again based on poor understanding of Arabic, or due to the acquisition of a poor translation. Let us read these verses:
We delivered the Children of Israel across the sea then Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them with hatred and aggression, then when he realised that he was drowning he said, "I believe that there is no god except the One in whom the Children of Israel have believed and I am one of the Muslims."
"What! Now? When you had previously rebelled and you were one of the corruptors?
Today, We will preserve your body, so that you serve as a sign for those to come after you." Indeed, many people are oblivious of Our signs. 10:90-92
The words "We will preserve your body" confirm that body of Pharaoh (and not his life) was to be preserved and set as an example for future generations. We do know that at that time, the Egyptians were endowed with the exclusive knowledge of mummification. Today, the body of Pharaoh (Ramsis II) is mummified and on display at the Cairo Museum in Egypt.
When we read 2:69 and also 5:69 we see that only the Christians who believe in God are saved. Here, it must be stressed that belief in God means very clearly belief in the One God who is not a third of a trinity and who is not Jesus Christ. Therefore, whoever believes that Jesus is God in the flesh does not really believe in the real God who created the heavens and the earth, and who created Jesus as well. Whoever believes that God is a tri figure-head, as per the 'Trinity', does not believe in the One God of the Old Testament (Torah) and the Quran and whom Jesus worshipped and delivered His word.
This is exactly what 5:72-73 states,
Those who have said that God is the Messiah, son of Mary are indeed disbelievers. The Messiah said, "O Children of Israel, you shall worship God; my Lord and your Lord." Anyone who sets partners with God, God has forbidden Paradise for him, and his refuge will be the fire. The transgressors have no supporters.
Those who have said that God is a third of a trinity are indeed disbelievers. There is no god except One God. If they do not refrain from what they are saying, a painful punishment will befall those who disbelieved among them. 5:72-73
According to the Quran, God is One not three in one. Jesus is the messenger of God and not His son. Therefore those among the Christians who worship God alone and are certain that He alone is the true God will attain Paradise and they have nothing to fear.
We are asserted in the Bible, as well as the Quran that God Alone is the true God:
"And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (New Testament, John 17:3)
These words of Jesus make a very clear distinction between God, the only true God, and between himself who was sent by God.
Jesus never claimed to be God, rather, he always proclaimed his subordination to God and that it is God alone whom we should all worship:
"You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone you shall serve" Luke 4:8
Now let us read the second verse quoted by the author:
Whoever seeks other than Islam (Submission to God) for a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. 3:85
Submission to Almighty God and obeying His Law is the teaching of all Scripture and not only the Quran. The Old Testament, New Testament, and the Quran all confirm this truth. Islam (Submission to God) is not a religion restricted to the Quran, nor is Islam a religion initiated by Muhammad, but is the only religion God prescribed in all the Scriptures. Those who have reduced Islam (Submission to God) to being the religion of the Quran only have not understood the meaning of Islam as defined in the Quran.
We read in 21:98:
You and what you worship besides God are fuel for Hell; you will surely come to it (Hell).
This has prompted the author, in haste, to claim that since Jesus is worshipped by millions of Christians, therefore according to the Quran all those millions, plus Jesus will burn in Hell! Had the author read only three verses later, he would have realised that his claim is hasty and false. Verse 101 reads:
As for those who received well from Us previously, they shall be kept far away from it (Hell).
In other words, all the good servants of God, who were worshipped against their wishes (like Jesus and Mary, etc), are protected from Hell fire, for they have already earned God's magnificent reward and thus abide forever in Paradise.
In essence, verse 98 speaks of the idols who misled the people into corrupt ways. To quote examples from every religion, we have the case of the Rabbis in the Jewish religion who set up a new man made law in the Mishna and Gemarah, in spite of God's clear commands to the people of Israel not to follow any law other than the law of God (Leviticus 18:4).
In the Christian faith we have the case of idols like Paul who was the corrupter of the message of Jesus, for although Jesus stated that it is written that everyone should worship and serve God alone (Luke 4:8), and that God alone is Lord (John 17:3), we find Paul creating a new religion through his vision of Jesus as a divine figure who died to save humanity, consequently leading the millions to worship Jesus as their Lord and Saviour instead of God.
In the Muslim faith, there are the examples of those who collected a whole bunch of fabricated lies against Prophet Muhammad 200 years after he died, which is known as hadith, and which 99% of Muslims follow today in spite of God's clear commands that they should reject all hadith other than the Quran (45:6). The Quranb proclaims that it is fully detailed (Quran 6:114). Prophet Muhammad himself commanded his followers not to write his hadith and only follow the Quran. This is documented in the books of hadith which they call authentic.
The author of this claim again once again demonstrates his very poor knowledge of the Quran. The Quran makes the point very clear that any sin can be forgiven, even idolatry, if one repents and reforms during his/her life time. On the other hand, shirk (idol worship) is not forgiven if maintained till death.
At the time of death repentance is too late and idolatry is not forgiven:
"Nor is it (repentance) acceptable from those who die as disbelievers" 4:18
The example of Abraham which was given by the author, is a good example to demonstrate this Quranic truth. We read in 6:76 how Abraham, in search of God, first mistakenly thought that a planet, then the moon and then the sun to be God. We then read that in 6:79 that Abraham repented and submitted to the One God, and was thus forgiven and appointed a Prophet of God.
Then when the night covered him, he saw a planet. He said, "This is my Lord" then, when it disappeared, he said, "I do not like that which disappears."
Then when he saw the moon rising, he said, "This is my Lord" then, when it disappeared, he said, "Unless my Lord guides me, I will be among the misguided people."
Then when he saw the sun rising, he said, "This is my Lord, this is larger" then, when it disappeared, he said, "O my people, I am innocent of the shirk you are committing.
I have turned my face towards the One who initiated the heavens and the earth; a monotheist, I am not one of the mushrikeen." 6:76-79
On the other hand, those who die as idol worshippers, are not forgiven. The claimed contradiction is non existent. The author also makes the following claim:
"Muslims believe that all Prophets are without any sin."
As made clear at the beginning of this research, what Muslims think or do is not the subject of this work, they may be right or wrong. This research is a reply to the claims of contradiction in the Quran, and not a defence of Muslims or what they believe in.
1- We read in Sura 28 that Moses committed the sin of killing an innocent man:
He (Moses) entered the town, unnoticed by its people, to find two men fighting. One was from his sect and the other was from his enemies. The one from his sect called for his help against the one from his enemy. Moses struck him thereby killing him. He said, "This is from the work of the devil; he is a clear misleading enemy." 28:15
In verse 16, we read that Moses then repented and implored God for forgiveness which was granted by God.
2- We also read about the sin of Noah when he disobeyed God's command and then repented:
And Dha Al-Nun, when he stormed off fuming, thinking We could not control him. Then he called out in the darkness: "There is no god other than You. Glory to You. I have been one of the transgressors." 21:87
Once again, and because he implored God for forgiveness he was forgiven.
We responded to him and delivered him from the misery, and thus do We save the believers. 21:88
The claim is that the words in 33:5 forbid adopting sons, so let us read this verse:
You shall call them (adopted sons) after their (Genetic) fathers. This is more equitable as far as God is concerned. If you do not know who their fathers are, then call them after your brethren in religion and those close to you. You are not to be blamed for your unintentional mistakes, but only for what your hearts deliberately intend. God is Forgiver, Merciful. 33:5
God is approving adoption in this verse and not prohibiting it.
The words: "You shall call them (adopted sons) after their (Genetic) fathers" indicate God's approval of adoption.
The verse stipulates that adopted children should be given their real fathers surname, but there is nothing in the verse to prohibit adoption.
We read in 26:171 that Lot's wife (who was doomed because she was a disbeliever) was old in age. The author seems to have a problem with someone being described as old! The wife of Lot was an old woman. This description in the Quran is not an insult, it is a statement of a fact. There is nothing disrespectful in being old.
Unlike current Christian belief, the Quran teaches that the Holy Spirit is Gabriel, who is an angel, who is subordinate to God and who is not a third of the trinity! It is worth mentioning here that up to two centuries after the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was still understood to mean a superior angel, not of one substance with God.
A- The words in 19:71 are as follows:
Indeed, there is none among you who will not pass by it (Hell). To your Lord, this is an ordained certainty.
This verse indeed confirms that all humans will pass by Hell and see it, yet we immediately note an important use of words between this verse and other verses that speak of the disbeliever's entry into Hell.
In 19:71 the Arabic word (Waredha) is used, which means (pass by and see). However, in the verses that speak about the disbelievers entry into Hell, we note the word (Dokhool) is used which means (entering), as opposed to passing by:
Your Lord says, "Implore Me and I will respond to you. Surely, those who are too arrogant to worship Me will enter Hell forcibly." 40:60
Indeed, all humans, including the believers, will pass by Hell, yet the believers will be shielded from its suffering, this is confirmed in the words:
On the Day of Resurrection you will see the faces of those who lied about God blackened. Is in Hell not a home for the arrogant ones?
God will save those who were reverent. Their reward is that no harm will touch them, nor will they grieve. 39:60-61
This could be compared to someone travelling through the blistering heat of the open desert in an air-conditioned car. Although he is in the middle of the desert yet he is shielded from its heat and enjoying the cool air-conditioned drive.
Further confirmation of this meaning is indicated in the Quran in reference to the story of Abraham:
They said, "Burn him and support your gods if you will."
We said, "O fire, be cool and peaceful upon Abraham" 21:68-69
Although Abraham was literally thrown into the fire by his idolatrous countrymen, yet he was shielded from it an no harm befell him.
For the believers, upon their passing by Hell and seeing all the suffering within, they will realise the great victory they have attained by avoiding Hell:
Every person tastes death and you will receive your rewards on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is nudged away from the fire, and admitted into Paradise, has indeed won. 3:185
Upon seeing Hell the believers are also assured that God's promise of Heaven and also of Hell was truthful:
Those who revered their Lord will be ushered to Paradise in throngs. When they get to it and its gates are opened, its custodians will say, "Peace be upon you, you have been good. Therefore, enter it where you shall permanently remain."
And they said, "Praise be to God who fulfilled His promise to us and made us inherit the earth, enjoying Paradise as we please." What a beautiful reward for the workers! 39:73-74
For every individual there is an angel who is assigned the duty of putting him/her to death when the appointed time comes:
Say, "The angel of death to whom you have been assigned will put you to death then to your Lord you shall be returned." 32:11
The words in 47:27 speak about the disbelievers in plural. This is indicated by the word "them" in the verse.
How will it be when the angels put them to death, beating faces and their backs? 47:27
Since verse 47:27 speaks of the disbelievers in plural, thus the word "angels" is used in plural.
In 39:42, we read told that God takes the souls at the time of death:
God takes the souls of those who have come to their death. 39:42
To expose this false claim of contradiction, we need to analyse the 3 verses.
1- Then when the horn is blown, no family relations will exist between them on that day (Day of Judgement), nor will they ask about one another. 23:101
What this verse tells us is that when the horn is blown, signalling Judgement Day, all blood relations of this world will be dissolved. The verse also speaks about the disbelievers (23:99-100) and that the last thing on their minds will be to inquire about their relatives or their next of kin. The time spoken of in this verse is the time just after resurrection and prior to the delivery of Judgement.
2- Some of them will approach one another enquiring. 37:27
The timing spoken of in this verse is the same as the timing of the previous verse (23:101). It is the time that follows resurrection, but still before Judgement. This is confirmed in verse 20 of the same Sura:
They will say, "Woe to us; this is the Day of the Religion." 37:20
The disbelievers will go about blaming one another for the miserable misfortune they find themselves in on the Day of Judgement (verses 27-33).
This kind of questioning and blaming is quite different in meaning to that in 23:101 where we read how the disbelievers will be overwhelmed by the awesome impact of Judgment Day. They will be too distressed by the grave misfortune that awaits them to be asking about their relatives.
3- They approach one another enquiring. 52:25
The subject, the time and the place spoken of in this verse are all different to the previous verses. While as the previous verses speak about the disbelievers (awaiting Judgment), this verse speaks about the believers who are already in Paradise (see verses 17-18). They ask one another and reminisce about their life on earth. This in indicated by verses 26-28:
They said, "We used to be in fear beforehand among our families.
Then God was Gracious to us and shielded us from the agony of the scorching winds.
We used to implore Him beforehand; He is the Grantor of all good things, the Merciful." 52:26-28
The claim of contradiction once again is non existent and is based on poor understanding of the Quranic verses in this Sura.
It is established in the Quran as well as all divine Scriptures that the angels are commissioned by God to execute various matters for the benefit of mankind. The angels do nothing of their own, they only carry out God's commands. One of the duties assigned to angels is the protection of humans when it be God's will. When they execute this job they are executing God's will and God's command for protection. The only Protector in real terms is God, even though the angels execute the protection command.
This claim of contradiction is based on the erroneous interpretation of 41:9-12:
Say, "Do you disbelieve in the One who created the earth in two days and you set up equals with Him? That is the Lord of the worlds."
He placed stabilisers in it that tower above it. He blessed it and calculated its provisions equally for all who seek it, all in four days.
Then He took hold of the sky while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, "Come willingly or unwillingly." They said, "We come willingly."
So He ordained them seven universes in two days and inspired in every universe its commands. We adorned the lowest universe with lamps and guarded it. Such is the design of the Dignified, the Knowledgeable. 41:9-12
The words in these verses state that the universe was created in two days, and that the setting up of all the provisions necessary for life was completed inside four days. The word 'earth' is used in the Quran either to mean planet earth, or as in this case to speak of the physical matter in the universe. The two days, in which the physical matter was created, are part of the four days. Thus, the matter in the universe was created and its provisions set up inside four days.
The error of the author is that he added 2 plus 4 , whereas the wording of the verse indicates that the four days include the two days.
This is in harmony with current theories of cosmology which state that the matter in the universe was not created initially. The universe in its initial stage was predominantly energy, too hot to form atoms. After an initial period, during which the universe cooled down to a temperature sufficient for atoms to form, physical matter as we know it today was created.
The Quranic words go on to say that the completion of the creation of all seven universes (where our physical universe is the innermost) required two extra days, for a total of six days.
Moreover, it must be noted that the 'days' of creation are only used allegorically to represent stages of creation and not 24 hours earthly days.
He is the One who created for you everything in the earth then He took hold of the heaven and fashioned it into seven universes. He is Knowledgeable of all things. 2:29
Verse 2:29 is of remarkable scientific significance. More than one verse in the Quran confirm the Big Bang theory. Verses 2:29 is one such verse. This verse states that all physical matter (earth) was created before the creation of the universe (space).
The Big Bang theory confirms that all matter that comprises the universe (and of which earth is formed) was once concentrated in a very small area. When this extremely dense concentration of mass exploded outwards it signalled the birth of time and space.
Now we can read the other verses on which this claim of contradiction is based on:
Are you a mightier creation than the heaven which He built?
He raised its height and fashioned it,
and He darkened its night and brought out its brightness.
Then the earth, after that, He made it egg-shaped. 79:27-30
The first 3 verses speak about the creation of the universe. The last verse speaks about the earth, but does it speak about the 'creation' of the earth? The answer is no. The words in 79:30 speaks about a stage, after the creation of planet earth, during which the earth was given its oval shape.
The Arabic word "deheya" which is used in 79:30 means an egg, hence the oval/egg shape. The words 'after that' clearly indicate that the topic of the verse is a stage after its creation. Theories of cosmology confirm that the earth acquired its oval shape at a later stage of its formation. The spinning of the earth on its axis caused the earth to bulge at the equator and acquire its oval shape.
To conclude, this words in 79:30 do not speak about all the matter in the universe, as 2:29 does, nor do they speak about the creation of planet earth. The words in 79:30, as shown above, speak about a very specific stages of the development of planet earth.
The claimed contradiction once again is non existent.
The two verses on which this contradiction is based read as follows:
Then He took hold of the sky (space) while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth (matter), "Come willingly or unwillingly." They said, "We come willingly." 41:11
Immediately we are given various accurate scientific indications that these two verses speak of two completely different events.
These indications are:
1- The word "ripped" in 21:30 confirms the original moment of the Big Bang when time, space and matter were all one unit of creation that exploded outwards.
2- The command from God to space and matter to 'come willingly (into existence)', in 41:11 implies that space and matter were already in existence. This confirms that the words in 41:11 speak of an event subsequent to the initial moment of creation which is the subject of 21:30.
3- The deliberate use of the word "smoke" in 41:11 provides an accurate piece of scientific knowledge. Modern theory of cosmology tells us that approximately 300,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was like a smoke-filled chamber consisting of hydrogen. From this smoke, and under the pull of gravity, the stars and galaxies started to form.
To conclude, 21:30 speaks of the creation of the universe, while 41:11 speaks of the subsequest stage after the creation of the universe; the stage when stars and galaxies began to form.
Those who describe the Arabic impersonal word 'ma' (what) in 91:5 as a grammatical error, because it is an impersonal word, and insist that God should be referred to in the personal, are most probably under the influence of the Christian perception of God as a 'person'. The Quran teaches that God is not a person, and certainly that we are not created in His image! The Quran also teaches that the human being is not capable of comprehending the true nature of God.
It follows that there is not any word, in any language, that can be accurate enough in referring to God. For that reason, both personal words such as 'huwa' (he) and 'mann' (who), and also impersonal words such as 'ma' (what) are used in the Quran interchangeably in reference to God. The reason being that none of these words is more accurate than the other in reference to God.