This post serves as an index to problems in the Koran. In short, it is a list of problems (by no means exhaustive) that lead me to believe that Muhammad was a false prophet. I welcome Muslims who disagree with me to discuss these problems and try to convince me that they are not true problems at all.
- Jesus was Crucified and Killed (2:72-73; 3:54-55; 4:157-158)
- Solomon Did Disbelieve (2:102)
- Apocryphal Apings (3:35-55)
- A Chink in the Armor (21:80; 34:10-11)
- Child Marriage (65:4)
Verses 35-36: “Behold! When the wife of Imran said: ‘O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: for Thou hearest and knowest all things.’ When she was delivered, she said: ‘O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!’–And Allah knew best what she brought forth–’And no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected.’”
Historical Error: Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not the daughter of Imran. Mary is said to be from the womb of Imran’s wife so Imran is portrayed as Mary’s father and not simply an ancestor. The Koran has confused Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Miriam, the daughter of Amram and sister of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 26:59; 1 Chronicles 6:3). The Protoevangelium of James, a second century document, claims that Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anna. V.A. Mohamad Ashrof says that Joachim may have had a second name and that that name was Imran. There is no evidence that was the case and it ignores the fact that first-century Palestinian Jews normally used a Greek or Latin name for their second name, as opposed to having two Semitic names1. See also 19:27-28; 66:12.
Verse 157: “Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), – in the law and the Gospel; – for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him, – it is they who will prosper.”
Factual Error: Muhammad, the unlettered prophet, is not prophesied in the Law or in the Gospel or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter.
Verse 30: And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
Factual Error: There is no record of the Jews ever calling Ezra the son of God (Allah). This verse speaks of the Jews (and the Christians). This indicates the verse is speaking of the Jews (and the Christians) in general and not some small sect (the translations of Nooruddin and Sarwar are wrong). It calls Ezra the son of God and not a son of God (Yusuf Ali’s translation is wrong). “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah” parallels “and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah,” suggesting Ezra holds a position among the Jews analogous to Christ’s position among Christians.
Verses 27-28: At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: “O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!”
Historical Error: Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not the sister of Aaron. According to Sahih Muslim 5326 this was already raising questions during the time of Muhammad:
Mughira b. Shu’ba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read ‘O sister of Harun’ (i. e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur’an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them.
The Christians of Najran believe that Muhammad has mistaken Mary, the mother of Jesus, for Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 15:20; Numbers 26:59; 1 Chronicles 6:3). Muhammad’s response appears to be that it was the custom of first-century Jews to call their daughters the sister of some past prophet and is admitting that Mary did not have a biological brother named Aaron. I am unaware of any example of such a custom and so it appears Muhammad was just making things up (Silas has made an exhaustive search and also found nothing). This is bolstered by the fact that neither the Christians of Najran nor the Muslims reading the Koran were aware of this custom until Muhammad was accused of being in error.
V.A. Mohamad Ashrof attempts to find this custom, or idiom, in the Bible but ultimately fails. Many of his examples are of the form “A son/daughter of B”, which is not the idiom used here. All his examples of the form “A brother/sister of B” involve contemporaries or biological relationships (e.g., Abraham and Lot were contemporaries). He is unable to provide an example of someone being called the brother or sister of a long-dead person as would be necessary to vindicate Muhammad. Islamic Awareness tries to show that this is an Arabic idiom despite the fact that Muhammad claimed it was an idiom used by Mary’s contemporaries. Even then they cannot find a legitimate example.
Answering Christianity contends that a female descendant of Aaron could be called a “sister of Aaron.” The problem is that the Protoevangelium of James 10.1 says Mary was a descendant of David and thus not a descendant of Aaron. Hebrews 7:11-16 explicitly rules out Jesus’ (and therefore Mary’s?) descent from Aaron. Moreover, we have already noted that the phrase “sister of X” is never used in the sense Muhammad claims.
Regarding Mary’s siblings, John 19:25 says Mary had a sister named Mary Cleopas. I am unaware of any other list of Mary’s siblings.
See also 3:35-36; 66:12.
Verse 6: And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: “O children of Israel, I am sent to you by God to confirm the Torah (sent) before me, and to give you good tidings of an apostle who will come after me, whose name is Ahmad (the praised one).” Yet when he has come to them with clear proofs, they say: “This is only magic.”
Historical Error: Jesus did not bring good tidings of a coming messenger named Ahmad or the praised one.
Verse 12: And Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).
Historical Error: Mary, the mother of Jesus, was not the daughter of Imran. See 3:35-36; 19:27-28.
Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.