One of 'world's oldest' Koran manuscripts found in UK
Fragments of an early Koran found in a Birmingham library may rewrite Islamic history after carbon dating revealed they could be older than Mohammed.
Scientists at the University of Oxford had already revealed that the parchment was among the oldest known Koranic texts in the world, but now several historians say it could be so old that it pre-dates the Muslim prophet, thus contradicting traditional accounts of his life and radically altering “the edifice of Islamic tradition.”
The dating reveals the text to have been written between AD568 and 645, while the dates of Mohammed’s life are traditionally given as AD570 to 632. This means that at the very latest it was written before the first formal texts were supposed to have been collated, and at the earliest it was written before or shortly after Mohammed was born.
Some academics now say that the impact of the text could be comparable to finding a copy of the Gospels dating back to before the time of Christ.
Historian Tom Holland told the Sunday Times that evidence was now mounting that traditional accounts of Islam’s origins are wrong.
“It destabilises, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged — and that in turn has implications for the historicity of Muhammad and the Companions [his followers],” he said.
Other very old Korans also seem to confirm that written texts were circulating before Mohammed’s death.
Needless to say, Muslim academics have disputed the claims. Mustafa Shah of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) said: “If anything, the manuscript has consolidated traditional accounts of the Koran’s origins.”
Meanwhile, Shady Hekmat Nasser from the University of Cambridge said: “We already know from our sources that the Koran was a closed text very early on in Islam, and these discoveries only attest to the accuracy of these sources.”
Dr Keith Small, a Koranic manuscript consultant at Oxford’s Bodleian Library, admits the carbon dating applies to the parchment, not the ink, while the calligraphy is characteristic of a later style.
Nevertheless, he believes the dates are probably correct and could raise serious questions for Islam.
“If the [carbon] dates apply to the parchment and the ink, and the dates across the entire range apply, then the Koran — or at least portions of it — pre-dates Muhammad, and moves back the years that an Arabic literary culture is in place well into the 500s.
“This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran’s genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven.
“This would radically alter the edifice of Islamic tradition and the history of the rise of Islam in late Near Eastern antiquity would have to be completely revised, somehow accounting for another book of scripture coming into existence 50 to 100 years before, and then also explaining how this was co-opted into what became the entity of Islam by around AD700.”
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, BECAUSE:
According to this old book:
From: THE ISLAMIC INVASION Pp.#39-53. by Robert A. Morey, 1992
The City of Mecca
It needs to be pointed out that Mecca was in the control of the Quraysh tribe into which Muhammad was born. Mecca was also the dominant religious center for all the pagan religions in Arabia.
Chamber's Encyclopedia points out:
The community in which Mohammed grew up was pagan, different localities having their own gods, often represented by stones.
In many places there were sanctuaries to which pilgrimage was made. Mecca contained one of the most important, the Kaaba, in which was placed the black stone, long an object of worship.5
Archaeologists have unearthed many examples of pre-Islamic art which includes their idols and symbols of worship.6
As Encyclopedia Britannica points out, the financial base of the Quraysh tribe depended upon the caravans and the trade routes that would particularly go through Mecca in order for pagans to worship their particular idol at the Kabah.7
The Quraysh tribe saw to it that there was an idol for every religion at the pagan temple called the Kabah.
The word Kabah is Arabic for "cube" and refers to the square stone temple in Mecca where the idols were worshiped. The temple contained a virtual smorgasbord of deities with something for everyone.
At least 360 gods were represented at the Kabah and a new one could be added if some stranger came into town and wanted to worship his own god in addition to the ones that were already represented.
The lucrative trade routes and the rich caravans formed the cultural link between Africa, the Middle East, the East, and the West. It is therefore no surprise to find stories in the Quran whose origin can be traced back to Egypt, Babylon, Persia, India, and even to Greece.
Magic and the Genies
In terms of pre-Islamic religious life, the basic orientation of the people was that of superstition. The Arabs believed in the "evil eye," the casting of curses and spells, magic stones, fatalism, fetishes, and the fabulous stories of the jinns, or what we call in English genies or fairies.
Most people in their childhood have read some of the fantastic fables found in The Arabian Nights, stories of Aladdin's lamp, of flying carpets, etc.
It is no surprise therefore to find that the Quran also contains references to such things as the evil eye, curses, fatalism, and the fabulous jinns (Suras 55; 72; 113 and 114).8
In many Islamic countries, Muslims still wear an amulet around the neck in which a part of the Quran is recorded to ward off the "evil eye."
The Arab population was basically animistic in orientation. The male and female jinns, or spirits, existed in trees, stones, rivers, and mountains, and they were worshiped and feared.
Sacred magic stones were believed to protect the tribes. The Quraysh tribe had adopted a black stone as their tribal magic stone and had set it up at the Kabah.
This magical black stone was kissed when people came on their pilgrimage to worship at the Kabah. It was no doubt an asteroid that had fallen out of the sky and thus was viewed as being divine in some way.9
The dominant religion that had grown very powerful just before Muhammad's time was that of the Sabeans'.
The Sabeans had an astral religion in which they worshiped the heavenly bodies. The moon was viewed as a male deity and the sun as the female deity. Together they produced other deities such as the stars. The Quran refers to this in Sura 41:37 and elsewhere.
They used a lunar calendar to regulate their religious rites. For example, a month of fasting was regulated by the phases of the moon.
The Sabean pagan rite of fasting began with the appearance of a crescent moon and did not cease until the crescent moon reappeared.10 This would later be adopted as one of the five pillars of Islam.
Pagan ritualism also contributed to the religious world into which Muhammad was born.
The pagans of pre-Islamic Arabia taught that every one should bow and pray toward Mecca during certain set times during the day. Everyone should also make a pilgrimage to Mecca to worship at the Kabah at least once in their life. Once they arrived at Mecca, the pagans ran around the Kabah seven times, kissed the black stone, and then ran about a mile to the Wadi Mina to throw stones at the devil.
They also believed in the giving of alms and condemned usury. They even had a certain month in which fasting was to be done according to the lunar calendar.11
That these pagan rites comprised the religion in which Muhammad was raised by his family is acknowledged by all. Thus it is no surprise to find that, as the Arab scholar Nazar-Ali has observed:
"Islam retained many aspects of pagan religion."12
Alfred Guillaume, who was Head of the Department of the Near and Middle East School of Oriental Studies and professor of Arabic at the University of London, and later taught at Princeton University, comments:
The customs of heathenism have left an indelible mark on Islam, notably in the rites of the pilgrimage.13
Professor Augustus H. Strong has stated that Islam "is heathenism in monotheistic form."14
Finally, the influence of foreign religions was also felt in pre-Islamic Arabia.
The Jews in large numbers had moved into Arabia and had grown very wealthy not only in trade but also in the gold and silver business.
Stories from the Old Testament, the Misnah, the Talmud, and Jewish apocryphal works such as the Testament of Abraham were well known in pre-Islamic Arabia.
There was also the influence of the Zoroastrian religion. Traders from Persia frequently passed through Mecca telling their favorite fables.
Because the main trade route went through Mecca, people from Eastern lands such as India and China also spreadth eir religious ideas and stories in Arabia.
It is no surprise to find that the Quran contains remnants of religious stories that can ultimately be traced back to Hinduism, Buddhism, Mythraism, Greek mystery religions, and Egyptian religions.
Christianity had already been introduced into southern Arabia and was flourishing there by the time Muhammad was born.
But the Christianity that was present in Arabia was in an uneducated and garbled form and, worse yet, sometimes heretical in nature.
Some of the heretical teachings of the Gnostics were present in pre-Islamic Arabia in such fraudulent gospels as the Gospel of Barnabas.
These Gnostic "gospels" began to appear in the later part of the third century and reached their highest influence during the fourth through the seventh centuries.
Their presence in pre-Islamic Arabia is well known.
The religious ideas and rites found in Islam and the Quran can be traced back to the influences of pre-Islamic culture, custom, and religious life.
Western scholars came to this conclusion when they asked the obvious question, "Why does the Quran never explain its ideas or rites? Why does it never define the meaning of such words as Allah, Islam, Mecca, jinn, pilgrimage, Kabah, etc.?"
The only rational conclusion one can come to is that the Quran does not explain such terminology because Muhammad assumed that whoever read the Quran would already be familiar with pre-Islamic culture, custom, and religious life.
This is why the Quran never explains the identity of the people mentioned in its many stories. It is assumed that the reader would already be familiar with these stories from pre-Islamic sources.
A Serious Threat
We are aware that these kinds of questions and the historical research that they generate pose a serious threat to the religion of Islam which teaches that the Quran literally came down from heaven and thus cannot have any earthly author or sources.
We understand the agony of Muslims over this issue. They are in a tight spot. To save the Quran, they must admit that Muhammad and not Allah was its author and that it was written on earth and not in heaven as it claims. This would explain all the pre-Islamic material in the Quran.
But in saving the Quran, they actually guarantee its destruction. In the end, the Muslim must give up his belief in the heavenly origin of the Quran. If this is done, Islam cannot stand.
The Cult of the Moon God
By this time it should not come as a surprise that the word 'Allah" was not something invented by Muhammad or revealed for the first time in the Quran.
The well-known Middle East scholar H. Gibb has pointed out that the reason that Muhammad never had to explain who Allah was in the Quran is that his listeners had already heard about Allah long before Muhammad was ever born.
Dr. Arthur Jeffery, one of the foremost Western Islamic scholars in modern times and professor of Islamic and Middle East Studies at Columbia University, notes:
"The name Allah, as the Quran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa."2
The word "Allah" comes from the compound Arabic word, al-ilah. Al is the definite article "the" and ilah is an Arabic word for "god." It is not a foreign word. It is not even the Syriac word for God. It is pure Arabic.3
Neither is Allah a Hebrew or Greek word for God as found in the Bible. Allah is a purely Arabic term used in reference to an Arabian deity.
Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics states:
'Allah" is a proper name, applicable only to their [Arabs'] peculiar God.4
According to the Encyclopedia of Religion:
'Allah" is a pre-Islamic name ... corresponding to the Babylonian Bel.5
For those people who find it hard to believe that Allah was a pagan name for a peculiar pagan Arabian deity in pre-Islamic times, the following citations may be helpful:
Allah is found ... in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam (Encyclopedia Britannica).6
The Arabs, before the time of Mohammed, accepted and worshipped, after a fashion, a supreme god called allah (Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Houtsma).7
Allah was known to the pre-Islamic Arabs; he was one of the Meccan deities (Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Gibb).8
Ilah ... appears in pre-Islamic poetry. ... By frequency of usage, al-ilah was contracted to allah, frequently attested to in pre-Islamic poetry (Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. Lewis).9
The name Allah goes back before Muhammed (Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend).10
The origin of this (Allah) goes back to pre-Muslim times. Allah is not a common name meaning "God" (or a "god"), and the Muslim must use another word or form if he wishes to indicate any other than his own peculiar deity (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics).11
To the testimony of the above standard reference works, we add those of such scholars as Henry Preserved Smith of Harvard University who has stated:
Allah was already known by name to the Arabs.12
Dr. Kenneth Cragg, former editor of the prestigious scholarly journal Muslim World and an outstanding modern Western Islamic scholar, whose works were generally published by Oxford University, comments:
The name Allah is also evident in archeological and literary remains of pre-Islamic Arabia.13
Dr. W. Montgomery Watt, who was Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Edinburgh University and Visiting Professor of Islamic studies at College de France, Georgetown University, and the University of Toronto, has done extensive work on the pre-Islamic concept of Allah. He concludes:
In recent years I have become increasingly convinced that for an adequate understanding of the career of Muhammad and the origins of Islam great importance must be attached to the existence in Mecca of belief in Allah as a "high god." In a sense this is a form of paganism, but it is so different from paganism as commonly understood that it deserves separate treatment.14
Caesar Farah in his book on Islam concludes his discussion of the pre-Islamic meaning of Allah by saying:
There is no reason, therefore, to accept the idea that Allah passed to the Muslims from the Christians and Jews.15
According to Middle East scholar E.M. Wherry, whose translation of the Quran is still used today, in pre-Islamic times Allah-worship, as well as the worship of Ba-al, were both astral religions in that they involved the worship of the sun, the moon, and the stars.16
In Arabia, the sun god was viewed as a female goddess and the moon as the male god. As has been pointed out by many scholars such as Alfred Guilluame, the moon god was called by various names, one of which was Allah!17
The name Allah was used as the personal name of the moon god, in addition to other titles that could be given to him.
Allah, the moon god, was married to the sun goddess.
Together they produced three goddesses who were called "the daughters of Allah." These three goddesses were called AI-Lat, AI-Uzza, and Manat.
The daughters of Allah, along with Allah and the sun goddess were viewed as "high" gods. That is, they were viewed as being at the top of the pantheon of Arabian deities.
Along with Allah, however, they worshipped a host of lesser gods and "daughters of Al-lah."18
The Crescent Moon Symbol
The symbol of the worship of the moon god in Arabian culture and elsewhere throughout the Middle East was the crescent moon.
Archaeologists have dug up numerous statues and hieroglyphic inscriptions in which a crescent moon was seated on top of the head of the deity to symbolize the worship of the moon god.
While the moon was generally worshiped as a female deity in the Ancient Near East, the Arabs viewed it as a male deity.
The Gods of the Quraysh
The Quraysh tribe into which Muhammad was born was particularly devoted to Allah, the moon god, and especially to Allah's three daughters who were viewed as intercessors between the people and Allah.
The worship of the three goddesses, Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat, played a significant role in the worship at the Kabah in Mecca. The first two daughters of Allah had names which were feminine forms of Allah.
The literal Arabic name of Muhammad's father was Abd-Allah. His uncle's name was Obied-Allah.
These names reveal the personal devotion that Muhamnad's pagan family had to the worship of Allah, the moon god.
Praying Toward Mecca
An Allah idol was set up at the Kabah along with all the other idols. The pagans prayed toward Mecca and the Kabah because that is where their gods were stationed.
It only made sense to them to face in the direction of their god and then pray. Since the idol of their moon god, Allah, was at Mecca, they prayed toward Mecca.
The worship of the moon god extended far beyond the Allah-worship in Arabia. The entire fertile crescent was involved in the worship of the moon.
This, in part, explains the early success of Islam among Arab groups that traditionally had worshiped the moon god.
The use of the crescent moon as the symbol for Islam which is placed on the flags of Islamic nations and on the top of mosques and minarets is a throwback to the days when Allah was worshiped as the moon god in Mecca.
While this may come as a surprise to many Christians who have wrongly assumed that Allah was simply another name for the God of the Bible, educated Muslims generally understand this point.
A Muslim Taxi Driver
During one trip to Washington D.C., I got involved in a conversation with a Muslim taxi driver from Iran.
When I asked him, "Where did Islam obtain its symbol of the crescent moon?" he responded that it was an ancient pagan symbol used throughout the Middle East and that adopting this symbol had helped Muslims to convert people throughout the Middle East.
When I pointed out that the word Allah itself was used by the moon-god cult in pre-Islamic Arabia, he agreed that this was the case.
I then pointed out that the religion and the Quran of Muhammad could be explained in terms of pre-Islamic culture, customs, and religious ideas. He agreed with this!
He went on to explain that he was a university-educated Muslim who, at this point in his life, was attempting to understand Islam from a scholarly viewpoint.
As a result, he had lost his faith in Islam.
The significance of the pre-Islamic source of the name Allah cannot be overestimated. SO BASICALLY, MOE'S GREAT "MESSAGE" WAS ONLY: "HEY EVERYBODY! ALLAH JUST TOLD ME HE'S EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN WE THOUGHT BEFORE!" PATHETIC.
In the field of comparative religions, it is understood that each of the major religions of mankind has its own peculiar concept of deity. In other words, all religions do not worship the same God, only under different names.
The sloppy thinking that would ignore the essential differences which divide world religions is an insult to the uniqueness of world religions.
Which of the world religions holds to the Christian concept of one eternal God in three persons? When the Hindu denies the personality of God, which religions agree with this?
Obviously, all men do not worship the same God, gods, or goddesses.
The Quran's concept of deity evolved out of the pre-Islamic pagan religion of Allah-worship. It is so uniquely Arab that it cannot be simply reduced to Jewish or Christian beliefs.
5. Chamber's Encyclopedia (London: International Learning Center, 1973), 1X:453.
6. Praeger Encyclopedia of Art (New York: Praeger, 1971), pp. 68-70. Encyclopedia of World Art (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1959), I:537ff.
7. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15:150ff.
8. Besides the standard references to "jinn" in Islamic dictionaries and encyclopedias, see Dashti and Bravmann for two particularly enlightening discussions.
9. Nearly all Western reference works have a section on the pre-Islamic history of Mecca, the Kabah, and the black stone. For example, see the Encyclopedia Britannica, 15:15Off.; Encyclopedia of Religion (ed. Eliade), 8:225ff.; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1:218.
10. For further information on the Sabeans, see Encyclopedia of Religion (ed. Eliade), 1:364-365; 7:303; 8:225ff.
11. This is common knowledge and supported by all general reference works such as Encyclopedia Britannica and all standard encyclopedias and dictionaries on Islam.
12. Michael Nazar-Ali, Islam: A Christian Perspective (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983), p.21.
13. Alfred Guillaume, Islam (London: Penguin Books, 1954), p.6.
14. Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1976 reprint), p.186.
Chapter 4- The Cult of the Moon God
1. H.A.R. Gibb, Mohammedanism: An Historical Survey (New York: Mentor Books, 1955), p.38.
2. Arthur Jeffery, ed., Islam: Muhammad and His Religion (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958), p.85.
3. For an interesting discussion of the origins of allah, see J. Blau, "Arabic Lexiographical Miscellanies," Journal of Semitic Studies, vol.XVII, no.2, 1972, pp.173-190. That allah is an Arabic word is also pointed out in Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1:326.
4. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1908), 1:326.
5. Encyclopedia of Religion, eds. Paul Meagher, Thomas O'Brian, Consuela Aherne (Washington D.C.: Corpus Pub., 1979),1:117.
The koran, is considered by Moslems to be "God’s final and authoritative revelation to humankind", it mentions Jesus (Arabic: Isa) twenty-five times. It states that Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of a virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of "Allah" and announced to Mary (Maryam) by the Angel Gabriel (Jibral).
The name of the "the false "prophet" Mohammad is found in only 4 places in the entire koran, but the name of Jesus (‘Isa’) is found in 25 places. The koran gives more preference to the name of Jesus!
Islam denies the paternity, deity, crucifixion, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ and makes him to be a barbarian warlord who will return to kill us.
In two places in the koran Mohammad openly admitted he could do no miracles to show any sort of divinity or divine calling (Surah 17:90-95; 3:183, also see : 29:50-51)
According to the koran, to aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, ‘Isa’ was given the ability to perform many miracles, all by the permission of "Allah", rather than of his own power. But, also according to the koran: it was another man was crucified, instead of Jesus. "‘Isa’ was neither killed nor crucified, but he did ascend into Heaven" (Jannah).
Islamic tradition and commentaries states that he will return to earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice and defeat al-Masi ad-Dajjal ("the false messiah", also known as the Antichrist ). The koran emphasizes that ‘Isa’ was a normal MORTAL human being who, like all other "Prophets", and had been divinely chosen to spread "Allah’s" message.
koran, Surah 4:
That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of "Allah"; - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:
Nay, "Allah" raised him up unto Himself; and "Allah" is Exalted in Power, Wise;
—koran, Surah 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158
According to the koran: Jesus was born of a miraculous event by a virgin.
The same kor an admits: Jesus’ conception and birth was performed as a miracle.
The koran also admits that Jesus Himself preformed many miracles and ascended into Heaven.
Also, according to the koran: Another man was crucified, instead of Jesus!
But according to the very same koran: Mohammad was BORN and DIED and is BURIED in the normal ways of all human flesh.
[ So these Jewish fishermen, tax collectors and such, did the old switcheroo and fooled
the Great Roman Army and the Sanhedrin?
--- My, oh my! ---
Islam gives the Apostles a lot of "Street Credit", pretty good for what Muslims call the Jews: "Sons of Pigs and Monkeys!"
Because the Moslem’s "Isa" was also a Jew, he must (ACCORDING TO THEM) also be one of the "Sons of Pigs and Monkeys!"]
Now, what is all this crap about MoHamMad "Ascending into ‘Heaven’ from the "al-Aqsa Mosque"???
In 632 Mohammad was able to perform the hajj. Soon after his return to Medina, he died in the presence of his favorite wife, ‘A’isha and her father, Abu Bakr. Mohammad was buried in his own house, which had already served as a mosque (Umayyad Mosque) for some years. The mosque with Mohammad’s grave still lies there, and is counted as the second most important mosque in all Islam, and Medina the second most holy city.
When Mohammad died in 632, he was BURIED. The gravesite of Mohammad is well known. He performed NO recorded miracles at all, except for the "miracles" no one ever witnessed, or while he was sleeping, and only told others about it later after he woke up. Muhammad is buried in the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi ("Mosque of the Prophet") in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. Muhammad's grave lies within the confines of what used to be his wife Aisha's and his house. During his lifetime, it adjoined the mosque, which was expanded during the reign of Caliph al-Walid I to include his tomb. Muhammad is buried next to the first two caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar. Umar was gifted a spot next to Muhammad by his wife Aisha, which she had intended for herself.
The "Prophet" Jesus (Isa) ascended into Heaven, but the "Final Messenger of ‘Allah’": Mohammad is just dead and buried as all normal flesh!
Also according to Muslim belief, their "the false ‘prophet’" Mohammed left his footprints on the rock sitting underneath the Dome of the Rock: supposedly as the last remaining evidence of his human existence, before he ascended into heaven in 632. However, neither the city of Jerusalem (al quds) nor Palestine is even mentioned in the koran! After the Persian invasion of Jerusalem in 614, followed by the Muslim Siege in 637, the Dome of the Rock was construct ed on the Temple Mount by the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik between 689 and completed 691 AD.
Both "DIED and BURIED" in Medina and also "ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN" from the Dome of the Rock mosque, immediately after depositing his footprints on the rock. This is a distance of over 750 miles by today’s roads – Now that’s a real "miracle"!
The koranic ‘Jesus’ (Isa) has many special features like he was born without the assistance of a man and that the Moslem "god" created him from a part of his own spirit and that the devil didn’t dare to touch him af ter he was born.
But Mohammad was born as a ‘normal’ human being, with ONLY ‘normal’ abilities, and died (from complications of a low dose of poison, after suffering greatly for three years after being poisoned by a Jewish woman at Khaybar) and was buried as all normal human flesh!