Contradictions in the Quran

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Under construction icon-yellow.svg

This article or section is being renovated.

Lead = 3 / 4
Structure = 4 / 4
Content = 4 / 4
Language = 3 / 4
References = 4 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4
4 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4

A recurring criticism of the Quran is that it contains contradictory pronouncements, as is argued of many other religious scriptures. The occurrence of these contradictions, critics argue, is particularly problematic in the case of the Quran because the Islamic tradition holds it to be the direct, unmediated word of Allah, or God. Indeed, Quran 4:82 makes the confident assertion: "Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction."

Critics hold that at least some of these contradictions are irresolvable through any reasonable interpretation and that, to resolve them, exegetes must resort to incredible interpretations. While some of the proposed contradictions, critics admit, may be resolved through the doctrine of abrogation, whereby Allah is said to override his previous instructions (through, for instance, permitting alcohol at one point and prohibiting at another), many other contradictions are not resolvable in this manner. Indeed, the Islamic tradition holds that the doctrine of abrogation is only applicable in cases of law and not theology - what Allah says at any point with regards to the divine, the hereafter, history, the day of judgement, or other such non-legal matters, must (and, the tradition holds, does) always hold true. Critics, however, have stated that many, including some of the most problematic, of the proposed contradictions are precisely of the theological, and not legal, variety.

A similar discussion exists between critics and Islamic scholars surrounding supposed contradictions contained in the hadiths.

Parallel narrative passages

Many stories in the Quran are repeated in other surahs. This risks ample opportunity for a human author or editor to unwittingly introduce contradictions between the parallel narratives. Indeed this is the case. Most of the examples in this section are from the Quran Variants website where they are discussed in more depth, with further insights and examples.
Narrative Contradictions in the Quran (pdf)

Due to the columns, if viewing on a mobile phone this section is best viewed by clicking desktop mode at the bottom of the page.

The forgiveness of Adam

Academic scholars have noticed that the author or editor of the Quran appears to have combined in verses 2:36-39 the stories of Adam in 7:22-25 and 20:121-124, with the awkward result that Allah tells Adam and company to go down from paradise twice, in verses 2:36 and 2:38.[1]

Moreover, a contradiction was thereby created regarding the timing of Adam's forgiveness by Allah. In Surah 20, Adam is forgiven before the command to descend from paradise (part of a longer section narrated chronologically). In Surah 7 Adam requests forgiveness from Allah, but it does not say whether Allah did forgive him. Instead, it immediately proceeds to the command to descend in 7:24. Surah 2 appears to fix the ambiguity in surah 7 by inserting the descent command seen in surah 7:24 into 2:36 (the whole verse is used word for word by 2:36 in the Arabic text) before Allah's forgiveness which "Then" follows immediately afterwards (Arabic: fa[2]). However, the first part of the command, to descend as enemies of one another is also in 20:123 where the forgiveness has already occurred in the previous verse.

Quran 2:36-39 Quran 7:22-25 Quran 20:121-124
2:36 But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, "Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time."

2:37 Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.
2:38 We said, "Go down from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance - there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.
2:39 And those who disbelieve and deny Our signs - those will be companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally."

7:22 So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And their Lord called to them, "Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?"

7:23 They said, "Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers."
7:24 [Allah] said, "Descend, being to one another enemies. And for you on the earth is a place of settlement and enjoyment for a time."
7:25 He said, "Therein you will live, and therein you will die, and from it you will be brought forth."

20:121 And Adam and his wife ate of it, and their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred.

20:122 Then his Lord chose him and turned to him in forgiveness and guided [him].
20:123 [Allah] said, "Descend from Paradise - all, [your descendants] being enemies to one another. And if there should come to you guidance from Me - then whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in the world] nor suffer [in the Hereafter].
20:124 And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind."

Timing of Allah's instructions to Noah

Two passages telling the story of Noah disagree as to when he was given the instructions about who and what to save in the ship. In 11:40, he receives the instructions when the flood is commanded. In 23:27, instead he receives these instructions earlier, at the same time as he is instructed to build the ark.

Quran 11:37-40 Quran 23:27
11:37 And construct the ship under Our observation and Our inspiration and do not address Me concerning those who have wronged; indeed, they are [to be] drowned."

11:38 And he constructed the ship, and whenever an assembly of the eminent of his people passed by him, they ridiculed him. He said, "If you ridicule us, then we will ridicule you just as you ridicule.
11:39 And you are going to know who will get a punishment that will disgrace him [on earth] and upon whom will descend an enduring punishment [in the Hereafter]."
11:40 [So it was], until when Our command came and the oven overflowed, We said, "Load upon the ship of each [creature] two mates and your family, except those about whom the word has preceded, and [include] whoever has believed." But none had believed with him, except a few.

So We inspired to him, "Construct the ship under Our observation, and Our inspiration, and when Our command comes and the oven overflows, put into the ship from each [creature] two mates and your family, except those for whom the decree [of destruction] has proceeded. And do not address Me concerning those who have wronged; indeed, they are to be drowned.

Abraham and the idols

Quran 37:87-97 contains a simpler version of the story in which Abraham smashes the idols in Quran 21:57-68. The two versions conflict in terms of where the events take place. In surah 37, everything takes place at the location of the idols. After some dialogue, we see in verse 90 “Then they turned away from him, departing” (fa-tawallaw ʿanhu mud'birīna); Abraham then smashes the idols; and “Then they came toward him, hastening” (fa-aqbalū ilayhi yaziffūna). Lane's Lexicon entry for the conjunction fa used at the start of 37:94 explains that in such usage as we see here, fa conveys proximate and uninterrupted succession.[2]

In contrast, the longer surah 21 version has the people return to find the smashed idols but Abraham is no longer present there. They send a party to bring him, and then back amidst the idols he shows them the folly of their ways (in both versions this is when they decide to burn him). So in the surah 21 version it is Abraham who comes to them.

Quran 21:57-68 Quran 37:87-97
21:57 And [I swear] by Allah, I will surely plan against your idols after you have turned and gone away."

21:58 So he made them into fragments, except a large one among them, that they might return to it [and question].
21:59 They said, "Who has done this to our gods? Indeed, he is of the wrongdoers."
21:60 They said, "We heard a young man mention them who is called Abraham."
21:61 They said, "Then bring him before the eyes of the people that they may testify."
21:62 They said, "Have you done this to our gods, O Abraham?"
21:63 He said, "Rather, this - the largest of them - did it, so ask them, if they should [be able to] speak."
21:64 So they returned to [blaming] themselves and said [to each other], "Indeed, you are the wrongdoers."
21:65 Then they reversed themselves, [saying], "You have already known that these do not speak!"
21:66 He said, "Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you?
21:67 Uff to you and to what you worship instead of Allah. Then will you not use reason?"
21:68 They said, "Burn him and support your gods - if you are to act."

37:87 Then what is your thought about the Lord of the worlds?"

37:88 And he cast a look at the stars
37:89 And said, "Indeed, I am [about to be] ill."
37:90 So they turned away from him, departing.
37:91 Then he turned to their gods and said, "Do you not eat?
37:92 What is [wrong] with you that you do not speak?"
37:93 And he turned upon them a blow with [his] right hand.
37:94 Then the people came toward him, hastening.
37:95 He said, "Do you worship that which you [yourselves] carve,
37:96 While Allah created you and that which you do?"
37:97 They said, "Construct for him a furnace and throw him into the burning fire."

Abraham and the Angels

The parallel Guests of Abraham stories in the Quran have been analysed in depth in a paper by Joseph Witztum in order to determine the relative chronology of the parallel passages.[3] Four contradictions between them are particularly notable here and discussed below.

Quran 11:69-79 (see also Quran 29:31-32 Quran 15:51-60 Quran 51:24-34
11:69 And certainly did Our messengers come to Abraham with good tidings; they said, "Peace." He said, "Peace," and did not delay in bringing [them] a roasted calf.

11:70 But when he saw their hands not reaching for it, he distrusted them and felt from them apprehension. They said, "Fear not. We have been sent to the people of Lot."

15:51 And inform them about the guests of Abraham,

15:52 When they entered upon him and said, "Peace." [Abraham] said, "Indeed, we are fearful of you."
15:53 [The angels] said, "Fear not. Indeed, we give you good tidings of a learned boy."

51:24 Has there reached you the story of the honored guests of Abraham? -

51:25 When they entered upon him and said, "[We greet you with] peace." He answered, "[And upon you] peace, [you are] a people unknown.
51:26 Then he went to his family and came with a fat [roasted] calf
51:27 And placed it near them; he said, "Will you not eat?"
51:28 And he felt from them apprehension. They said, "Fear not," and gave him good tidings of a learned boy.

11:71 And his Wife was standing, and she smiled. Then We gave her good tidings of Isaac and after Isaac, Jacob.

11:72 She said, "Woe to me! Shall I give birth while I am an old woman and this, my husband, is an old man? Indeed, this is an amazing thing!"
11:73 They said, "Are you amazed at the decree of Allah? May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house. Indeed, He is Praiseworthy and Honorable."

15:54 He said, "Have you given me good tidings although old age has come upon me? Then of what [wonder] do you inform?"

15:55 They said, "We have given you good tidings in truth, so do not be of the despairing."
15:56 He said, "And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord except for those astray?"

51:29 And his wife approached with a cry [of alarm] and struck her face and said, "[I am] a barren old woman!"

51:30 They said, "Thus has said your Lord; indeed, He is the Wise, the Knowing."

11:74 And when the fright had left Abraham and the good tidings had reached him, he began to argue with Us concerning the people of Lot.'

11:75 Indeed, Abraham was forbearing, grieving and [frequently] returning [to Allah].
11:76 [The angels said], "O Abraham, give up this [plea]. Indeed, the command of your Lord has come, and indeed, there will reach them a punishment that cannot be repelled."

15:57 [Abraham] said, "Then what is your business [here], O messengers?"

15:58 They said, "Indeed, we have been sent to a people of criminals,
15:59 Except the family of Lot; indeed, we will save them all
15:60 Except his wife." Allah decreed that she is of those who remain behind.

51:31 [Abraham] said, "Then what is your business [here], O messengers?"

51:32 They said, "Indeed, we have been sent to a people of criminals
51:33 To send down upon them stones of clay,
51:34 Marked in the presence of your Lord for the transgressors."

Various contradictions are apparent in these parallels (the first 3 discussed by Witztum in his paper).

1) In Surah 11 and Surah 51 Abraham's fear comes after the angels do not take the food and it is at that point that they reassure him of their mission (either to the people of Lot or to bring him the good tidings). In surah 15 however, Abraham expresses his fear as soon as they arrive exchanging greetings of peace.

2) Abraham's wife receives the good tidings either directly (Surah 11) or indirectly, having overhead the tidings given to Abraham (Surah 51). Her immediate reaction is the same in both versions.

3) In 51:28 (and 15:53) Abraham is only given tidings of a learned boy (singular), which his wife overhears, whereas in 11:71 his wife is directly given tidings both of Isaac and of Jacob. Again, it is notable that her same immediate reaction is given in 51:29 and 11:72, so these are portraying the same moment.

4) In 11:70 the angels calm Abraham's fear by telling him that they have been sent to the people of Lot. Later, in verse 74, he argues with them on behalf of the people of Lot (qawmi lūṭin, again) perhaps having already understood their intention earlier. In surahs 15 and 51 the angels instead respond to Abraham's fear by giving him the good tidings, and it is only later in 15:57 and 51:31 that he seems to learn of their mission to the people of Lot when he asks “Then what” (famā) is their next business.

Lot and the angels

After the business with Abraham and his wife, the angels visit Lot and his family to save them from the destruction coming to the people there.

Quran 15:61-74 Quran 11:77-83
15:61 And when the messengers came to the family of Lot,

15:62 He said, "Indeed, you are people unknown."
15:63 They said, "But we have come to you with that about which they were disputing,
15:64 And we have come to you with truth, and indeed, we are truthful.
15:65 So set out with your family during a portion of the night and follow behind them and let not anyone among you look back and continue on to where you are commanded."
15:66 And We conveyed to him [the decree] of that matter: that those [sinners] would be eliminated by early morning.
15:67 And the people of the city came rejoicing.
15:68 [Lot] said, "Indeed, these are my guests, so do not shame me.
15:69 And fear Allah and do not disgrace me."
15:70 They said, "Have we not forbidden you from [protecting] people?"
15:71 [Lot] said, "These are my daughters - if you would be doers [of lawful marriage]."
15:72 By your life, [O Muhammad], indeed they were, in their intoxication, wandering blindly.
15:73 So the shriek seized them at sunrise.
15:74 And We made the highest part [of the city] its lowest and rained upon them stones of hard clay.

11:77 And when Our messengers, [the angels], came to Lot, he was anguished for them and felt for them great discomfort and said, "This is a trying day."

11:78 And his people came hastening to him, and before [this] they had been doing evil deeds. He said, "O my people, these are my daughters; they are purer for you. So fear Allah and do not disgrace me concerning my guests. Is there not among you a man of reason?"
11:79 They said, "You have already known that we have not concerning your daughters any claim, and indeed, you know what we want."
11:80 He said, "If only I had against you some power or could take refuge in a strong support."
11:81 The angels said, "O Lot, indeed we are messengers of your Lord; [therefore], they will never reach you. So set out with your family during a portion of the night and let not any among you look back - except your wife; indeed, she will be struck by that which strikes them. Indeed, their appointment is [for] the morning. Is not the morning near?"?
11:82 So when Our command came, We made the highest part [of the city] its lowest and rained upon them stones of layered hard clay, [which were]
11:83 Marked from your Lord. And Allah 's punishment is not from the wrongdoers [very] far.

Three contradictions are evident in these parallel passages.

1) In surah 15, the angels tell Lot when they first arrive that they are there to save him and his family from the punishment to come. A mob arrives trying to take the visitors and Lot attempts to placate them by offering his daughters. In Q. 11, the sequence of events is very expressly the other way around: the mob events occur first, which leads to the angels explaining how they will save Lot and his family. Although 15:67 starts with the "And" conjunction (like some of the previous verses), the suspicion of contradiction in Q. 15 is well justified from the textual sequence of the elements (this is, after all, a narrative), and from what naturally reads like the angels explaining themselves upon their arrival in the first few verses. This is even apparent from the way Lot addresses them as "people unknown" (qawmun munkarūna) in 15:62, mirroring the way Abraham addressed the angels when he greeted them in 51:25 (see above).

2) Another contradiction concerns the context in which the angels tell Lot of their mission to save him and his family. In 15:61-66, the angels reveal this in response to Lot addressing them as people unknown / strange when they first arrive, alluding in verse 63 to Lot's pleadings to the people in other passages. In 11:80-81, instead the angels reveal their mission in order to ease the fear Lot expresses about the mob.

3) Finally, the accounts conflict in sequencing the elements of Lot's appeal to the mob. In 11:78 he says “these are my daughters” then asks them to “fear Allah and do not disgrace me”. In 15:68-71 instead he asks them to “fear Allah and do not disgrace me”, the mob responds, and then comes the “These are my daughters” element.

Response from Lot's people

Two passages make exclusive statements about the response of Lot's people to his arguments before the visit of the angels. Both verses come across as sweeping statements on the response of Lot's people to his pleadings, perhaps reflective of Muhammad's own experiences, except that each uses categorically exclusive language ("the answer of his people was not but they said...").

Quran 27:54-57 Quran 29:28-29
27:54 And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, "Do you commit immorality while you are seeing?

27:55 Do you indeed approach men with desire instead of women? Rather, you are a people behaving ignorantly."
27:56 But the answer of his people was not except that they said, "Expel the family of Lot from your city. Indeed, they are people who keep themselves pure."
27:57 So We saved him and his family, except for his wife; We destined her to be of those who remained behind.

29:28 And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, "Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds.

29:29 Indeed, you approach men and obstruct the road and commit in your meetings [every] evil." And the answer of his people was not but they said, "Bring us the punishment of Allah, if you should be of the truthful."

Moses meets Allah at the fire

In this example, three accounts of Moses talking with Allah at the fire bear only a passing resemblance to one another. It is worth noting that Quran 4:164 says regarding the nature of the interaction “And Allah spoke to Moses with [direct] speech". Al-Razi notes in his commentary for 20:12 that the Mu’tazilites, Al-Ash’ari and al-Maturidi had different theological views on whether the words of Allah came from via the bush itself, and whether they were audible.

All three versions have “O Moses, Indeed, I am Allah” (or "your Lord") as a common element in the Arabic. However, there is otherwise little attempt at consistency in the variant stories. In surah 27, Allah is introduced as “Lord of the worlds” in the 3rd person and introduces himself with the common element along with another title. In surah 28 we see the opposite sequence with the “Lord of the Worlds” title used in the 1st person after the common introduction.

Quran 20:10-16 Quran 27:7-9 Quran 28:29-30
20:10 When he saw a fire and said to his family, "Stay here; indeed, I have perceived a fire; perhaps I can bring you a torch or find at the fire some guidance." 27:7 [Mention] when Moses said to his family, "Indeed, I have perceived a fire. I will bring you from there information or will bring you a burning torch that you may warm yourselves." 28:29 And when Moses had completed the term and was traveling with his family, he perceived from the direction of the mount a fire. He said to his family, "Stay here; indeed, I have perceived a fire. Perhaps I will bring you from there [some] information or burning wood from the fire that you may warm yourselves."
20:11 And when he came to it, he was called, "O Moses,

20:12 Indeed, I am your Lord, so remove your sandals. Indeed, you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa.
20:13 And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed [to you].
20:14 Indeed, I am Allah. There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.
20:15 Indeed, the Hour is coming - I almost conceal it - so that every soul may be recompensed according to that for which it strives.
20:16 So do not let one avert you from it who does not believe in it and follows his desire, for you [then] would perish.

27:8 But when he came to it, he was called, "Blessed is whoever is at the fire and whoever is around it. And exalted is Allah, Lord of the worlds.

27:9 O Moses, indeed it is I - Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise."

28:30 But when he came to it, he was called from the right side of the valley in a blessed spot - from the tree, "O Moses, indeed I am Allah, Lord of the worlds."

Moses expresses his fears and asks Allah about Aaron

In this sequence contradiction, Allah has revealed himself at the fire to Moses, who expresses his worries and makes a request. In the surah 26 version, Moses expresses his fear that the people of Pharaoh will deny him; he requests that he be assisted by his brother, Aaron; and finally, Moses mentions that the Egyptians want revenge for someone he had killed. However, in the surah 28 version, these three elements occur in the reverse order.

Regardless of differences that could be simply put down to the vagaries of translation from ancient languages or alternative paraphrases and shortening for brevity, the information content and sequencing is more fundamental and susceptible to contradiction, particularly when the Quran claims that such and such was said by a person on a particular occasion.

Quran 26:10-17 Quran 28:33-35
26:10 And [mention] when your Lord called Moses, [saying], "Go to the wrongdoing people -

26:11 The people of Pharaoh. Will they not fear Allah?"
26:12 He said, "My Lord, indeed I fear that they will deny me
26:13 And that my breast will tighten and my tongue will not be fluent, so send for Aaron.
26:14 And they have upon me a [claim due to] sin, so I fear that they will kill me."
26:15 [Allah] said, "No. Go both of you with Our signs; indeed, We are with you, listening.
26:16 Go to Pharaoh and say, 'We are the messengers of the Lord of the worlds,
26:17 [Commanded to say], "Send with us the Children of Israel."'"

28:33 He said, "My Lord, indeed, I killed from among them someone, and I fear they will kill me.

28:34 And my brother Aaron is more fluent than me in tongue, so send him with me as support, verifying me. Indeed, I fear that they will deny me."
28:35 [Allah] said, "We will strengthen your arm through your brother and grant you both supremacy so they will not reach you. [It will be] through Our signs; you and those who follow you will be the predominant."

How should Moses describe Allah to Pharaoh?

Quran 20:47-49 narrates Allah's instructions to Moses at the fire and his first encounter with Pharaoh, ending with a display of miracles and Pharaoh's subsequent scheming. In this passage, Allah tells Moses to say that he and Aaron are "messengers of your Lord" and the account of their first encounter begins with Pharaoh asking, "So who is the Lord of you two, O Moses?". However, in Quran 26:16-23 Allah instructs them to use a different title, "Lord of the worlds", which Pharaoh then enquires upon at the start of the narration of their first encounter, again before the display of miracles and Pharaoh's subsequent scheming. Similarly, Quran 7:104 narrates "And Moses said, "O Pharaoh, I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds" on their first encounter.

Quran 20:47-49 Quran 26:16-23
20:47 So go to him and say, 'Indeed, we are messengers of your Lord, so send with us the Children of Israel and do not torment them. We have come to you with a sign from your Lord. And peace will be upon he who follows the guidance.

20:48 Indeed, it has been revealed to us that the punishment will be upon whoever denies and turns away.' "
20:49 [Pharaoh] said, "So who is the Lord of you two, O Moses?"

26:16 Go to Pharaoh and say, 'We are the messengers of the Lord of the worlds,

26:17 [Commanded to say], "Send with us the Children of Israel."'"
26:23 Said Pharaoh, "And what is the Lord of the worlds?"

Pharaoh and his Chiefs

Coming after Moses has impressed Pharaoh with the miracles of the serpent and white hand, both surah 7 and 26 immediately then describe a discussion between Pharaoh and his chiefs. In surah 7, Pharaoh asks his council what do they instruct/advise (famādhā tamurūna?), but in surah 26, the same question is transferred from his mouth to the council, apparently asking themselves (in both versions the addressee of the question is plural, and the addressee of the answer is singular i.e. Pharaoh).

Quran 7:109-112 Quran 26:34-35
7:109 Said the eminent among the people of Pharaoh, "Indeed, this is a learned magician

7:110 Who wants to expel you from your land [through magic], so what do you instruct?
7:111 They said, "Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers
7:112 Who will bring you every learned magician."

26:34 [Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, "Indeed, this is a learned magician

26:35 He wants to drive you out of your land by his magic, so what do you advise?
26:36 They said, "Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers
26:37 Who will bring you every learned, skilled magician."

The whole dialogue is identical in Arabic, except for the addition of "by his magic" (bisiḥ'rihi) in verse 26:35 and "send" (ib'ʿath) instead of its synonym (arsil) in 26:36.

This contradiction (and the awkwardness of the surah 7 version) has attracted the attention of numerous academic scholars. Joseph Witztum notes that Muslim exegetes proposed that both Pharaoh and his chiefs asked the same question in the same way despite it being portrayed at the same place in the same dialogue in both versions. Judging the attempted harmonization attempt to be "far from compelling", instead he observes that the mala (chiefs) are a theme of surah 7, mentioned eight times (three of which are in an Egyptian context) and speaking in all but one of them. That compares with this one time in surah 26.[4] It is then easy to see how dialogue could accidentally be transferred into their mouths at some point during composition, editing or transmission. Indeed, it is not uncommon for small details to be merged, transferred or substituted between repeated narratives.[5]

Who believed in Moses?

Some days later, Moses defeats the magicians at the arranged contest by performing the snake miracle again. Three surahs narrate that the magicians then professed their belief in Moses, even defying threats made towards them from Pharaoh. However, surah 10 narrates the same occasion but only mentions the tricks by the magicians without a miracle from Moses. It says that then none believed Moses except for youths/offspring from his people.

There was some discussion by exegetes as to whether “his people” in 10:83 refers to the people of Moses or (awkwardly as al-Tabari notes, since he is only named subsequently) the people of Pharaoh. Regardless, it contradicts the other surahs in which the magicians now believed in him.

Quran 26:38-51 (see also Quran 7:113-129 and Quran 20:60-76) Quran 7:161-162
26:38 So the magicians were assembled for the appointment of a well-known day.

26:39 And it was said to the people, "Will you congregate
26:40 That we might follow the magicians if they are the predominant?"
26:41 And when the magicians arrived, they said to Pharaoh, "Is there indeed for us a reward if we are the predominant?"
26:42 He said, "Yes, and indeed, you will then be of those near [to me]."
26:43 Moses said to them, "Throw whatever you will throw."
26:44 So they threw their ropes and their staffs and said, "By the might of Pharaoh, indeed it is we who are predominant."
26:45 Then Moses threw his staff, and at once it devoured what they falsified.
26:46 So the magicians fell down in prostration [to Allah].
26:47 They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the worlds,
26:48 The Lord of Moses and Aaron."
26:49 [Pharaoh] said, "You believed Moses before I gave you permission. Indeed, he is your leader who has taught you magic, but you are going to know. I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you all."
26:50 They said, "No harm. Indeed, to our Lord we will return.
26:51 Indeed, we aspire that our Lord will forgive us our sins because we were the first of the believers."

10:80 So when the magicians came, Moses said to them, "Throw down whatever you will throw."

10:81 And when they had thrown, Moses said, "What you have brought is [only] magic. Indeed, Allah will expose its worthlessness. Indeed, Allah does not amend the work of corrupters.
10:82 And Allah will establish the truth by His words, even if the criminals dislike it."
10:83 But no one believed Moses, except [some] youths among his people, for fear of Pharaoh and his establishment that they would persecute them. And indeed, Pharaoh was haughty within the land, and indeed, he was of the transgressors
10:84 And Moses said, "O my people, if you have believed in Allah, then rely upon Him, if you should be Muslims."
10:85 So they said, "Upon Allah do we rely. Our Lord, make us not [objects of] trial for the wrongdoing people
10:86 And save us by Your mercy from the disbelieving people."

Were Pharaoh's army covered by or thrown into the sea?

In the verses shown on the left column, particularly 10:90, we are told that the Egyptians pursued the Israelites across the sea “until when” (ḥattā idhā) they were drowned. They had pursued them across a "dry path through the sea" (20:77), “Then” (fa - see Lexicon note above) the sea covered them (20:78) which had towered on each side (26:63).

However, verses 28:40 and 51:40 on the right column state instead that Allah took (akhadhnāhu) Pharaoh and his army then threw them (fanabadhnāhum) into the sea (fī l-yami).

Quran 10:90 Quran 28:40
And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, "I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims." So We took him and his soldiers and threw them into the sea. So see how was the end of the wrongdoers.
Quran 20:77-78
Quran 51:40
20:77 And We had inspired to Moses, "Travel by night with My servants and strike for them a dry path through the sea; you will not fear being overtaken [by Pharaoh] nor be afraid [of drowning]."

20:78 So Pharaoh pursued them with his soldiers, and there covered them from the sea that which covered them,

So We took him and his soldiers and cast them into the sea, and he was blameworthy.
Quran 26:63-66

26:63 Then We inspired to Moses, "Strike with your staff the sea," and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain.
26:64 And We advanced thereto the pursuers.
26:65 And We saved Moses and those with him, all together.
26:66 Then We drowned the others.

This contradiction has a parallel in the Biblical book of Exodus, which is discussed in detail by Pamela Barmash.[6] Exodus 14:23-28 contains a prose narrative of the episode, considered by academic scholars to be composed of a number of sometimes contradictory sources. The Egyptians follow the Israelites into the midst of the sea. God “shakes off” (naar) the Egyptians in the midst of the sea as they flee the returning waters. Then it says the returning waters cover their chariots, horsemen and all the forces of Pharaoh. The next chapter, Exodus 15, contains the poetic “Song of the Sea”, in which the piled up waters return and cover the Egyptians in verses 8-10, but elsewhere employs a repeated refrain that God has hurled them into the sea as well as other poetic imagery of shattering them with his fist and of burning them like straw. These images combine to give a metaphor of God as a warrior. Barmash observes that “A historical account is replaced by poetic articulation of religious exuberance”.

Moses berates Aaron about the golden calf

After the golden calf incident, Aaron makes two very different pleadings in surahs 7 and 20 after Moses grabs him. It is possible with some awkwardness to harmonise that he gave the two different excuses, one after the other, though it is further worth noting that in both accounts Aaron's protest begins with the common address “O son of my mother” as Moses grabs him.

Quran 7:150 Quran 20:90-95
And when Moses returned to his people, angry and grieved, he said, "How wretched is that by which you have replaced me after [my departure]. Were you impatient over the matter of your Lord?" And he threw down the tablets and seized his brother by [the hair of] his head, pulling him toward him. [Aaron] said, "O son of my mother, indeed the people oppressed me and were about to kill me, so let not the enemies rejoice over me and do not place me among the wrongdoing people." 20:90 And Aaron had already told them before [the return of Moses], "O my people, you are only being tested by it, and indeed, your Lord is the Most Merciful, so follow me and obey my order."

20:91 They said, "We will never cease being devoted to the calf until Moses returns to us."
20:92 [Moses] said, "O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray,
20:93 From following me? Then have you disobeyed my order?"
20:94 [Aaron] said, "O son of my mother, do not seize [me] by my beard or by my head. Indeed, I feared that you would say, 'You caused division among the Children of Israel, and you did not observe [or await] my word.' "
20:95 [Moses] said, "And what is your case, O Samiri?"

Did Moses's speech impediment get fixed?

God showed Moses a magical fire that did not burn out, and informs him of his prophethood. Then commanded him to go to Pharaoh with his signs in the hope that he may be warned and fear God. Moses agreed but complained that he couldn’t speak clearly, and he asked God to cure him of it, and to open his breast and make the task easy/easier:

...“Go thou to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds.” “( Moses) said: ‘O, my Lord! Expand me my breast,” ease my task for me, and remove the impediment from my speech, so they may understand what I say.” “( Allah) said: ‘Granted is thy prayer, O Moses!’”...

Here God seems to respond to his prayer instantly (the verses in between 20:29-20:35 are part of the same narrative so the order is linear):

...Allah responded, “All that you requested has been granted, O Moses!...

However when he actually gets to Pharoah, he (Pharoah) states that he still cannot express himself clearly:

“And Pharaoh proclaimed among his people, saying, ‘O, my people! Does not the dominion of Egypt belong to me, (witness) these streams flowing underneath my (palace)? What! See ye not, then? Am I not better than this (Moses), who is a contemptible wretch, and can scarcely express himself clearly?’”

The destruction of Thamud

In 54:26, Allah tells the prophet Salih that tomorrow the people of Thamud will know he is not a liar. If this refers merely to the sending of the she-camel the next day, that would contradict other parallel passages where the she-camel does not lead to them accepting Salih as truthful. See 91:11-14 also shown below, where the same root for liar appears as a verb (kadhabūhu) in “But they denied him and hamstrung her” after Salih presents the she-camel, and at the end of 11:65 where it appears as a noun (makdhūbin). Tommaso Tesei has noted that 91:13-14 is likely a later editing or interpolation, the long sentences breaking the metre of the otherwise short verses in that surah and turning verse 15 into theological nonsense (who could think Allah would fear anything?).[7]

"They will know tomorrow who is the insolent liar" could instead mean that the people of Thamud are to be destroyed that next day and thereby learn that Salih is not a liar. However, according to verse 65 of the surah 11 story, their destruction will instead come three days after they hamstrung the she-camel.

Quran 54:23-31 Quran 11:64-68 Quran 91:11-15
54:23 Thamud denied the warning

54:24 And said, "Is it one human being among us that we should follow? Indeed, we would then be in error and madness.
54:25 Has the message been sent down upon him from among us? Rather, he is an insolent liar."
54:26 They will know tomorrow who is the insolent liar.
54:27 Indeed, We are sending the she-camel as trial for them, so watch them and be patient.
54:28 And inform them that the water is shared between them, each [day of] drink attended [by turn].
54:29 But they called their companion, and he dared and hamstrung [her].
54:30 And how [severe] were My punishment and warning.
54:31 Indeed, We sent upon them one blast from the sky, and they became like the dry twig fragments of an [animal] pen.

11:64 And O my people, this is the she-camel of Allah - [she is] to you a sign. So let her feed upon Allah 's earth and do not touch her with harm, or you will be taken by an impending punishment."

11:65 But they hamstrung her, so he said, "Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. That is a promise not to be denied."
11:66 So when Our command came, We saved Salih and those who believed with him, by mercy from Us, and [saved them] from the disgrace of that day. Indeed, it is your Lord who is the Powerful, the Exalted in Might.
11:67 And the shriek seized those who had wronged, and they became within their homes [corpses] fallen prone
11:68 As if they had never prospered therein. Unquestionably, Thamud denied their Lord; then, away with Thamud.

91:11 Thamud denied [their prophet] by reason of their transgression,

91:12 When the most wretched of them was sent forth.
91:13 And the messenger of Allah [Salih] said to them, "[Do not harm] the she-camel of Allah or [prevent her from] her drink."
91:14 But they denied him and hamstrung her. So their Lord brought down upon them destruction for their sin and made it equal [upon all of them].
91:15 And He does not fear the consequence thereof.

Al-Razi and Al-Qurtubi mention a view that “tomorrow” is just a turn of phrase to indicate the future. Such an explanation is very dubious given that the next verse promises a specific event (the sending of the she-camel) and given that a clearly literal timescale is given to the same people in 11:65.

The destruction of Aad

In a remarkably careless mistake, 41:13 warns that not only Thamud, but both Aad and Thamud were destroyed by a thunderbolt. The next few verses mention a screaming wind sent to Aad over a number of days as a punishment (though without stating that this wind ultimately destroyed them), and goes on to mention the thunderbolt which seized the people of Thamud.

Thamud's sudden destruction by a thunderbolt is narrated also in Quran 51:44, where the thunderbolt seized Thamud as they looked on. The word thunderbolt in these verses is sa'iqatan, which can refer to the sound of a thunderbolt or the lightning bolt itself.[8] Similarly, the instantaneous death of the people of Thamud by a thunderous blast (ṣayḥatan) appears in surah 11 and surah 54 quoted above in the previous section, and by a single blast (ṭāghiyati) in Q. 69:5. They were killed by an earthquake in Q. 7:78, though the word l-rajfatu, needn't mean a literal earthquake, and can mean a convulsion or jolting according to Lane's Lexicon. Thus with some harmonising effort we have a story of sudden thunderous death for the people of Thamud.

However, all other descriptions of Aad's destruction except for 41:13 say that it was by means of a violent wind over a day or number of days, which uprooted its people like trees and destoyed everything, leaving only ruined homes.

In an attempt to rescue the contradiction, Al-Tabari in his tafsir for 41:13 claims that sa'iqatan (thunderbolt) is a catch all term for anything that destroys something, while al-Qurtubi claims that the wind was the sa'iqatan.

Quran 41:13-17
41:13 But if they turn away, then say, "I have warned you of a thunderbolt like the thunderbolt [that struck] 'Aad and Thamud.

41:14 [That occurred] when the messengers had come to them before them and after them, [saying], "Worship not except Allah." They said, "If our Lord had willed, He would have sent down the angels, so indeed we, in that with which you have been sent, are disbelievers."
41:15 As for 'Aad, they were arrogant upon the earth without right and said, "Who is greater than us in strength?" Did they not consider that Allah who created them was greater than them in strength? But they were rejecting Our signs.
41:16 So We sent upon them a screaming wind during days of misfortune to make them taste the punishment of disgrace in the worldly life; but the punishment of the Hereafter is more disgracing, and they will not be helped.
41:17 And as for Thamud, We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance, so the thunderbolt of humiliating punishment seized them for what they used to earn.

Quran 46:24-25
46:24 And when they saw it as a cloud approaching their valleys, they said, "This is a cloud bringing us rain!" Rather, it is that for which you were impatient: a wind, within it a painful punishment,

46:25 Destroying everything by command of its Lord. And they became so that nothing was seen [of them] except their dwellings. Thus do We recompense the criminal people.

Quran 51:41-42
51:41 And in 'Aad [was a sign], when We sent against them the barren wind.

51:42 It left nothing of what it came upon but that it made it like disintegrated ruins.
51:43 And in Thamud, when it was said to them, "Enjoy yourselves for a time."
51:44 But they were insolent toward the command of their Lord, so the thunderbolt seized them while they were looking on.
51:45 And they were unable to arise, nor could they defend themselves.

Quran 54:18-20
54:18 'Aad denied; and how [severe] were My punishment and warning.

54:19 Indeed, We sent upon them a screaming wind on a day of continuous misfortune,
54:20 Extracting the people as if they were trunks of palm trees uprooted

Quran 69:4-8
69:4 Thamud and 'Aad denied the Striking Calamity.

69:5 So as for Thamud, they were destroyed by the overpowering [blast].
69:6 And as for 'Aad, they were destroyed by a screaming, violent wind
69:7 Which Allah imposed upon them for seven nights and eight days in succession, so you would see the people therein fallen as if they were hollow trunks of palm trees.
69:8 Then do you see of them any remains?

There is possibly a second contradiction concerning the destruction of Aad. Some point to the fact that whereas 41:16 says the wind was sent in "days of misfortune" and 69:7 says the wind was imposed for "seven nights and eight days in succession", 54:19 says it was sent on a "day [singular] of continuous misfortune". Exegetes discussed the word "continuous" in 54:19. Al-Tabari and al-Zamakhshari said the misfortune continued until they were destroyed. Al-Razi mentioned the relevant verses and in order to harmonize them, interpreted "continuous" as indicating further days. He considered two views, that "continuous" relates to the word day or to the word misfortune, preferring the former. The verse itself mentions a "day" singular and the preceding Arabic about when the wind was sent is the same in this verse as in Q. 41:16, which then instead says "days":

arsalnā ʿalayhim rīḥan ṣarṣaran fī yawmi naḥsin mus'tamirri We sent upon them a screaming wind in a day of continuous misfortune

arsalnā ʿalayhim rīḥan ṣarṣaran fī ayyāmin naḥisātin We sent upon them a screaming wind in days of misfortune

Lane's Lexicon has some discussion of the word mus'tamirrin ("continuous") as it is used in this verse and in Q. 54:2 where it is used in the phrase (“passing magic”) in the same grammatical form.[9]


Where is Allah?

Verses such as 2:255 (the famous throne verse) and other anthropomorphic verses have long been a topic of controversy and debate as to what extent they should be taken metaphorically. For the Asharis they were beyond human understanding.[10] To critics, this lack of clear resolution is unsurprising given the apparent contradiction between verses that describe Allah in a location and those that imply he is everywhere.

Upon a throne (arsh and kursi)

Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.
He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days; then He mounted the Throne. He knoweth all that entereth the earth and all that emergeth therefrom and all that cometh down from the sky and all that ascendeth therein; and He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah is Seer of what ye do.
And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days - and His Throne was upon the water - that He might try you, which of you is best in conduct. Yet if thou (O Muhammad) sayest: Lo! ye will be raised again after death! those who disbelieve will surely say: This is naught but mere magic.


To Allah belong the east and the West: Whithersoever ye turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing.
When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.
We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein

Can Allah be seen?


No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.
It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger to reveal, with Allah's permission, what Allah wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise


I swear by the star when it goes down.Your companion does not err, nor does he go astray; Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed, The Lord of Mighty Power has taught him, The Lord of Strength; so he attained completion, And he is in the highest part of the horizon. Then he drew near, then he bowed. So he was the measure of two bows or closer still. And He revealed to His servant what He revealed. The heart was not untrue in (making him see) what he saw. What! do you then dispute with him as to what he saw? And certainly he saw him in another descent, At the farthest lote-tree; Near which is the garden, the place to be resorted to. When that which covers covered the lote-tree; The eye did not turn aside, nor did it exceed the limit. Certainly he saw of the greatest signs of his Lord.

The vision in the first part of surah al-Najm (53) quoted above was traditionally associated with the beginning of Muhammad's night journey. While there was debate among Muslim scholars as to whether the object of the vision was Allah or an angel, the general consensus of modern academic scholars is that Allah is the object of the vision in this passage, especially considering that it says in Quran 53:10 "And he revealed to His Servant what he revealed". Furthermore, the use of the verb "see" (raʾā) in verses 11-13 and 18 regarding the vision, is used also in the next verse 19 when the opponents are challenged as to whether they have seen their own pagan deities "al-Lāt and al-ʿUzzā and Manāt". Some of the subsequent verses may suggest that the Quranic mushrikun considered these three to be angels rather than gods, though many academic scholars have observed that these are among the long verses (23 and 26-32) which seem to have been inserted later (whether by Muhammad or an editor) into a surah of otherwise short verses. As Tommaso Tesei notes, these long verses also coincide with the textual location in the surah where the Satanic verses were said to have originally appeared.[11]

Could Allah have a child?

The Quran responds to the mushrikun who associated partners with Allah including sons and daughters. In one response it says this is impossible as Allah has no consort, but in another it responds by conceding it would be possible for him take a son from among his creation but he simply choses not to do so.

No, for he has no consort

Yet they ascribe as partners unto Him the jinn, although He did create them, and impute falsely, without knowledge, sons and daughters unto Him. Glorified be He and High Exalted above (all) that they ascribe (unto Him). The Originator of the heavens and the earth! How can He have a child, when there is for Him no consort, when He created all things and is Aware of all things?

Yes, he could by other means but he chooses not to

Surely pure religion is for Allah only. And those who choose protecting friends beside Him (say): We worship them only that they may bring us near unto Allah. Lo! Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Lo! Allah guideth not him who is a liar, an ingrate. If Allah had willed to choose a son, He could have chosen what He would of that which He hath created. Be He Glorified! He is Allah, the One, the Absolute.

Is Allah kind and merciful?


Most Gracious, Most Merciful


Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.

Does Allah forgive worshipping other gods/shirk?


Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.


Allah forgiveth not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, Hath strayed far, far away (from the right).


The people of the Book ask thee to cause a book to descend to them from heaven: Indeed they asked Moses for an even greater (miracle), for they said: "Show us Allah in public," but they were dazed for their presumption, with thunder and lightning. Yet they worshipped the calf even after clear signs had come to them; even so we forgave them; and gave Moses manifest proofs of authority


Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; - and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. (But) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy,- Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful,

Can anyone change the word of Allah?

Yes - the Jews especially seem to be charged with doing this, which is the mainstream Islamic view,[12] though is not without controversy (see: Corruption of Previous Scriptures).

But those who were unjust changed it for a saying other than that which had been spoken to them, so We sent upon those who were unjust a pestilence from heaven, because they transgressed.
Have ye any hope that they will be true to you when a party of them used to listen to the word of Allah, then used to change it, after they had understood it, knowingly?
Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, "This is from Allah," that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby.
(As for) those who take a small price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths-- surely they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the day of resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement. Most surely there is a party amongst those who distort the Book with their tongue that you may consider it to be (a part) of the Book, and they say, It is from Allah, while it is not from Allah, and they tell a lie against Allah whilst they know. It is not meet for a mortal that Allah should give him the Book and the wisdom and prophethood, then he should say to men: Be my servants rather than Allah's; but rather (he would say): Be worshipers of the Lord because of your teaching the Book and your reading (it yourselves).
Qur'an 3:77-79
And when Allah made a covenant with those who were given the Book: You shall certainly make it known to men and you shall not hide it; but they cast it behind their backs and took a small price for it; so evil is that which they buy.
Of those who are Jews (there are those who) alter words from their places and say: We have heard and we disobey and: Hear, may you not be made to hear! and: Raina, distorting (the word) with their tongues and taunting about religion; and if they had said (instead): We have heard and we obey, and hearken, and unzurna it would have been better for them and more upright; but Allah has cursed them on account of their unbelief, so they do not believe but a little.
But on account of their breaking their covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard; they altered the words from their places and they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of; and you shall always discover treachery in them excepting a few of them; so pardon them and turn away; surely Allah loves those who do good (to others). And with those who say, We are Christians, We made a covenant, but they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of, therefore We excited among them enmity and hatred to the day of resurrection; and Allah will inform them of what they did. O followers of the Book! indeed Our Messenger has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book and passing over much; indeed, there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah;
Qur'an 5:13-15
O Messenger! let not those grieve you who strive together in hastening to unbelief from among those who say with their mouths: We believe, and their hearts do not believe, and from among those who are Jews; they are listeners for the sake of a lie, listeners for another people who have not come to you; they alter the words from their places, saying: If you are given this, take it, and if you are not given this, be cautious; and as for him whose temptation Allah desires, you cannot control anything for him with Allah. Those are they for whom Allah does not desire that He should purify their hearts; they shall have disgrace in this world, and they shall have a grievous chastisement in the hereafter.


And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.

Angels and demons

How many angels helped Muhammad at Badr?

Three thousand

Remember thou saidst to the Faithful: "Is it not enough for you that Allah should help you with three thousand angels (Specially) sent down?

One thousand

Remember ye implored the assistance of your Lord, and He answered you: "I will assist you with a thousand of the angels, ranks on ranks."

Some claim that one of these could refer to the battle of Uhud, but that was a defeat for the Muslims.

Who could Allah send as messengers (rasulan)?

Not angels

Say, "If there were settled, on earth, angels walking about in peace and quiet, We should certainly have sent them down from the heavens an angel for a messenger."

Only men from amongst a community

Nor did We send before thee (as messengers) any but men, whom we did inspire,- (men) living in human habitations. Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those before them? But the home of the hereafter is best, for those who do right. Will ye not then understand?

Both angels and men

Allah chooses messengers from angels and from men for Allah is He Who hears and sees (all things).


Which was created first; the Heaven or Earth?

The Heaven

Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it. He raised its ceiling and proportioned it. And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness. And after that He spread the earth. He extracted from it its water and its pasture, And the mountains He set firmly As provision for you and your grazing livestock.


Say, "Do you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days and attribute to Him equals? That is the Lord of the worlds." And He placed on the earth firmly set mountains over its surface, and He blessed it and determined therein its [creatures'] sustenance in four days without distinction - for [the information] of those who ask. Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, "Come [into being], willingly or by compulsion." They said, "We have come willingly." And He completed them as seven heavens within two days and inspired in each heaven its command. And We adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and as protection. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.


He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things.

How many days did it take Allah to create heaven and earth?

Commentators interpreted the first two days as part of the first four in the 2nd quote. Quite a few other verses mention the creation of the Earth in six days, so this may well simply be a badly worded description rather than a contradiction in terms of the intended meaning.

6 days

Verily your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority), regulating and governing all things. No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained). This is Allah your Lord; Him therefore serve ye: will ye not receive admonition?

8 days

Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds. He placed therein firm hills rising above it, and blessed it and measured therein its sustenance in four Days, alike for (all) who ask;

Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower

How long does it take Allah to create?

A long time

Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o'er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command. Is it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds!

An instant

The Originator of the heavens and the earth! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.

Day of Judgement (Qiyamah)

Will disbelievers speak on Qiyamah?


And the Word will be fulfilled against them, because of their wrong-doing, and they will be unable to speak


Woe, that Day, to the deniers. This is a Day they will not speak, Nor will it be permitted for them to make an excuse. Woe, that Day, to the deniers. This is the Day of Judgement; We will have assembled you and the former peoples.

Not willingly, their body parts will speak the truth

That Day shall We set a seal on their mouths. But their hands will speak to us, and their feet bear witness, to all that they did.

Yes, and they can speak lies. Various verses describe dialogue taking place between disbelievers and believers or Allah or angels on the day of resurrection. For example:

And [mention, O Muhammad], the Day We will gather them all together; then We will say to those who associated others with Allah, "Where are your 'partners' that you used to claim [with Him]?" Then there will be no [excuse upon] examination except they will say, "By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who associated." See how they will lie about themselves. And lost from them will be what they used to invent.
They will say, "O woe to us! This is the Day of Recompense." [They will be told], "This is the Day of Judgement which you used to deny." [The angels will be ordered], "Gather those who committed wrong, their kinds, and what they used to worship Other than Allah, and guide them to the path of Hellfire And stop them; indeed, they are to be questioned." [They will be asked], "What is [wrong] with you? Why do you not help each other?" But they, that Day, are in surrender. And they will approach one another blaming each other. They will say, "Indeed, you used to come at us from the right."

Will the disbelievers be blind on the day of resurrection?


And whoever turns away from My remembrance - indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind." He will say, "My Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was [once] seeing?"


And when those who associated others with Allah see their "partners," they will say," Our Lord, these are our partners [to You] whom we used to invoke besides You." But they will throw at them the statement, "Indeed, you are liars."
When we have died and become dust and bones, are we indeed to be resurrected? And our forefathers [as well]?" Say, "Yes, and you will be [rendered] contemptible." It will be only one shout, and at once they will be observing. They will say, "O woe to us! This is the Day of Recompense."

How long will the unbelievers think they remained on Earth?

An afternoon or morning

It will be, on the Day they see it, as though they had not remained [in the world] except for an afternoon or a morning thereof.

An hour

And the Day the Hour appears the criminals will swear they had remained but an hour. Thus they were deluded. But those who were given knowledge and faith will say, "You remained the extent of Allah 's decree until the Day of Resurrection, and this is the Day of Resurrection, but you did not used to know."

Ten days

The Day the Horn will be blown. And We will gather the criminals, that Day, blue-eyed. They will murmur among themselves, "You remained not but ten [days in the world]." We are most knowing of what they say when the best of them in manner will say, "You remained not but one day."

A day or part of a day

[Allah] will say, "How long did you remain on earth in number of years?" They will say, "We remained a day or part of a day; ask those who enumerate." He will say, "You stayed not but a little - if only you had known.


Does evil come from Allah?


.... If some good befalls them, they say "This is from Allah". But if evil, they say "This is from thee" (O prophet). Say: "All things are from Allah....


Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee, is from Allah. But whatever evil happens to thee, is from thyself. But what has come to these people. That they fail to understand a single fact

Heaven and Hell

Is intercession possible on the last day?


Then guard yourselves against a-Day when one soul shall not avail another, nor shall compensation be accepted from her nor shall intercession profit her nor shall anyone be helped (from outside).


O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and that I made you excel the nations. And be on your guard against a day when one soul shall not avail another in the least, neither shall intercession on its behalf be accepted, nor shall any compensation be taken from it, nor shall they be helped.


On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (Allah) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him.


Will non-Muslims go to hell forever?

Not necessarily

One day will He gather them all together, (and say): "O ye assembly of Jinns! Much (toll) did ye take of men." Their friends amongst men will say: "Our Lord! we made profit from each other: but (alas!) we reached our term - which thou didst appoint for us." He will say: "The Fire be your dwelling-place: you will dwell therein for ever, except as Allah willeth." for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge.

Not necessarily

Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs: They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) accomplisher of what He planneth. And those who are blessed shall be in the Garden: They will dwell therein so long for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: a gift without break

Not eternal (Huqb is seventy or eighty years, and every day of it is like one thousand years according to your reckoning in this life—Ibn Kathir)

They will dwell therein for ages.


And those who followed shall say: Had there been for us a return, then we would renounce them as they have renounced us. Thus will Allah show them their deeds to be intense regret to them, and they shall not come forth from the fire


Such is the requital of the enemies of Allah,- the Fire: therein will be for them the Eternal Home: a (fit) requital, for that they were wont to reject Our Signs

What will be the food in hell?

Only thorns, or dhari

"No food will there be for them but a bitter Dhari"

Only pus

Nor hath he any food except the corruption from the washing of wounds

Also zaqqum, hell fruit (see also in Quran 44:40-46 and Quran 56:41-52)

Is Paradise a better accommodation or the tree of zaqqum? Indeed, We have made it a torment for the wrongdoers. Indeed, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of the Hellfire, Its emerging fruit as if it was heads of the devils. And indeed, they will eat from it and fill with it their bellies.


Could someone bear another's burden?

In some verses the Quran states that no person will bear the sins of another. Academic scholar Gabriel Said Reynolds notes that the Quranic story of Cain and Abel contradicts the maxim. Abel states in Quran 5:29 "Indeed I want you to obtain [thereby] my sin and your sin so you will be among the companions of the Fire." (though Ibn Kathir has a report that some companions said this refers rather to Cain's sin of murdering him and to Cain's previous sins). Regarding this type of contradiction, Reynolds cites such verses as 4:111, 6:164, 17:13-15, 20:12, 39:7, 53:38-42 where each person bears only their own sin, compared to 5:29, 16:25, and 20:13 where someone will bear another's sin.[13] Here are some of those verses and similar examples:


Say: "Shall I seek for (my) Cherisher other than Allah, when He is the Cherisher of all things (that exist)? Every soul draws the meed of its acts on none but itself: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. Your goal in the end is towards Allah: He will tell you the truth of the things wherein ye disputed."


Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another's burdens if one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load. Not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other). Even though he be nearly related. Thou canst but admonish such as fear their Lord unseen and establish regular Prayer. And whoever purifies himself does so for the benefit of his own soul; and the destination (of all) is to Allah.


On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray:) "Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith."


Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.

Yes (notice how directly this contradicts the previous example, 17:15)

Let them bear, on the Day of Judgment, their own burdens in full, and also (something) of the burdens of those without knowledge, whom they misled. Alas, how grievous the burdens they will bear!


When it is said to them, "Believe in what Allah Hath sent down, "they say, "We believe in what was sent down to us:" yet they reject all besides, even if it be Truth confirming what is with them. Say: "Why then have ye slain the prophets of Allah in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe?"


Allah has certainly heard the saying of those who said: Surely Allah is poor and we are rich. I will record what they say, and their killing the prophets unjustly, and I will say: Taste the chastisement of burning.


They will bear their own burdens, and (other) burdens along with their own, and on the Day of Judgments they will be called to account for their falsehoods.

Yes; this verse tells contemporary Jews that they will not get their wanted miracle from Muhammad because past Jews killed prophets that performed miracles.[14]

Tell those who say, ‘Allah has pledged us not to believe in any apostle unless he brings us an offering consumed by fire,’ ‘Apostles before me certainly did bring you manifest signs and what you speak of. Then why did you kill them, if you are truthful?’ But if they deny you, [other] apostles have been denied before you, who came with manifest signs, holy writs, and an illuminating scripture.

Who takes people's souls?

One angel

Say: "The Angel of Death, put in charge of you, will (duly) take your souls: then shall ye be brought back to your Lord."

Many angels

But how (will it be) when the angels take their souls at death, and smite their faces and their backs?


It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.


Who was the first Muslim (submitter)?

To be clear, the meaning of "Muslim" in all such verses is "submitter" in its essential sense of monotheistic worship and obedience rather than Muslim in the sense of the distinctly Islamic religion.

Muhammad (after the word "first" in these verses, some translations add [among you] in square brackets, which is a commentary not present in the Arabic)

Say (O Muhammad): Lo! I am commanded to worship Allah, making religion pure for Him (only). And I am commanded to be the first of those who are muslims (surrender unto Him).
Say: Shall I choose for a protecting friend other than Allah, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, Who feedeth and is never fed? Say: I am ordered to be the first to surrender (unto Him). And be not thou (O Muhammad) of the idolaters.
He hath no partner. This am I commanded, and I am first of those who surrender (unto Him).


And if you turn away [from my advice] then no payment have I asked of you. My reward is only from Allah, and I have been commanded to be of the Muslims."

Lot and his family

And We found not within them other than a [single] house of Muslims.

During the time of Abraham

And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you "Muslims" before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper.

The disciples of Jesus

And when I inspired the disciples, (saying): Believe in Me and in My messenger, they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto Thee) "we are muslims"

How strong is a believer?

20 Muslims can overcome 200 disbelievers

If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve

100 Muslims can overcome 200 disbelievers

So if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand (steadfast) they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah.

Can you eat non-halal meat?

Yes, Christian and Jewish food may be eaten

This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).


So eat of (meats) on which Allah's name hath been pronounced, if ye have faith in His signs.

How bad is drinking wine?

These verses are traditionally explained as gradual abrogation, while critics see a contradiction as a result of the author changing his mind over time.

It is a wholesome drink (though not necessarily fermented in this verse)

And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise

No prohibition on getting drunk as long as you're not praying

O ye who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when ye are drunken, till ye know that which ye utter, nor when ye are polluted, save when journeying upon the road, till ye have bathed. And if ye be ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have touched women, and ye find not water, then go to high clean soil and rub your faces and your hands (therewith). Lo! Allah is Benign, Forgiving.

It is Satan's handiwork, leave it aside

O ye who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.

It is a severe sin

They question thee about strong drink and games of chance. Say: In both is great sin, and (some) utility for men; but the sin of them is greater than their usefulness. And they ask thee what they ought to spend. Say: that which is superfluous. Thus Allah maketh plain to you (His) revelations, that haply ye may reflect

How many sacred months are there?


The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)- so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein, and fight the Pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.


O ye who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the symbols of Allah, nor of the sacred month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the sacred house, seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when ye are clear of the sacred precincts and of pilgrim garb, ye may hunt and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah: for Allah is strict in punishment.


Can people be compelled to follow Islam?


There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.


Unto you your religion and unto me my religion

Yes, the treaty-breakers must die unless they convert or individually seek refuge

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Yes, certain Christians and Jews who will not believe must be fought until they pay the jizyah

Fight those who (do) not believe in Allah and not in the Day the Last, and not they make unlawful what Allah has made unlawful and His Messenger, and not they acknowledge (the) religion (of) the truth, from those who were given the Scripture, until they pay the jizyah willingly, while they (are) subdued.

Will Allah reward the good deeds of everyone?


It is not for such as join gods with Allah, to visit or maintain the mosques of Allah while they witness against their own souls to infidelity. The works of such bear no fruit: In Fire shall they dwell.


And whoso doeth good an atom's weight will see it then

Who sends disbelievers astray?


Of them there are some who (pretend to) listen to thee; but We have thrown veils on their hearts, So they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they saw every one of the signs, not they will believe in them; in so much that when they come to thee, they (but) dispute with thee; the Unbelievers say: "These are nothing but tales of the ancients."


Then is one to whom the evil of his deed has been made attractive so he considers it good [like one rightly guided]? For indeed, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. So do not let yourself perish over them in regret. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of what they do.


No soul can believe except by the will of Allah


(Iblis) said: "O my Lord! because Thou hast put me in the wrong, I will make (wrong) fair-seeming to them on the earth, and I will put them all in the wrong


Who whispereth in the hearts of mankind


I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires....


Hath not the story reached them of those before them?- the People of Noah, and 'Ad, and Thamud; the People of Abraham, the men of Midian, and the cities overthrown. To them came their messengers with clear signs. It is not Allah Who wrongs them, but they wrong their own souls.


It is they who have lost their own souls, that they will not believe


It was not Allah who wronged them, but they wronged their own souls

How should disbelievers be treated?


Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah: It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each People according to what they have earned.


The worshipers of the Most Gracious are those who tread the earth gently, and when the ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace

They must be attacked

Fight those who (do) not believe in Allah and not in the Day the Last, and not they make unlawful what Allah has made unlawful and His Messenger, and not they acknowledge (the) religion (of) the truth, from those who were given the Scripture, until they pay the jizyah willingly, while they (are) subdued.

Are Jews God's chosen people?

Yes - the idea of favouring one people over another for seemingly no apparent reason is strange and contradictory to begin with for a universal God. However this contradiction would have to be incorporated by a man claiming the former National Israelite God Yahweh (which initially had no relation to non-Israelites)[15] was universal, or at least related and relevant to the Arabs of his time.

“O Children of Israel! Remember my favour which I bestowed upon you, and that I favoured you over all other peoples.”
Children of Israel, remember My blessing wherewith I blessed you, and that I have preferred you above all beings;

No, they are just like everyone else

“Say: ‘Oh, you who are Jews! If you claim that you are favoured of Allah to the exclusion of mankind, then long for death, if you are truthful.”

People of the Book

How are Christians towards the believers?

They are allies of the Jews, do not take them as allies

O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you - then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.

Christians are nearest in love to the believers

Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.

Christians have hearts of compassion and mercy

We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and we ordained in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy.


Is incest okay?


Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father's sisters, Mother's sisters; brother's daughters, sister's daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives' mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in,- no prohibition if ye have not gone in;- (Those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful;-

Adam's children did it

And (remember) when thy Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their reins, their seed, and made them testify of themselves, (saying): Am I not your Lord? They said: Yea, verily. We testify. (That was) lest ye should say at the Day of Resurrection: Lo! of this we were unaware;

Can multiple wives be dealt with justly?

Both verses use the word "justly" (taʿdilū).


if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.


Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so). But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense. If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.


Who brought revelation to Muhammad?

The Holy spirit

Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims

Angel Jibreel

Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah's leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers;

Is the Quran clear?


(This is) a Book, whose verses are made decisive, then are they made plain, from the Wise, All-aware:


And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect among every nation a witness over them from themselves. And We will bring you, [O Muhammad], as a witness over your nation. And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.


[Say], "Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?" And those to whom We [previously] gave the Scripture know that it is sent down from your Lord in truth, so never be among the doubters.


There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur'an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.


He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.

No, letters such as these at the start of some surahs have an incomprehensible meaning

Alif. Lam. Mim.


How long does it take to wean?

30 months (perhaps including 9 months pregnancy)

We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam."

24 months

And We have enjoined upon man concerning his partners - His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years - Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents. Unto Me is the journeying

Gabriel Said Reynolds notes that the idea of two years of suckling comes from the Babylonian Talmud Ketubbot 60a.[16]

The moon was split

Main article: Moon splitting miracle

The Qur'an (according to a common interpretation) and a hadith tradition claim that the moon was miraculously split into two pieces and then, presumably, put back together again.

1. The hour drew nigh and the moon did rend asunder. 2. Yet if they see a sign they turn away, and they say 'A continuous sorcery!'

Yet we are told Muhammad cannot produce a sign (in the form of a miracle), but only warn people with the message, in verses such as:

The unbelievers say, "Why has God not sent him, (Muhammad), some miracles." (Muhammad), you are only a warner. For every nation there is a guide.
They swear their strongest oaths by Allah, that if a (special) sign came to them, by it they would believe. Say: "Certainly (all) signs are in the power of Allah: but what will make you (Muslims) realise that (even) if (special) signs came, they will not believe."?
Perhaps you, (Muhammad), may by chance leave (untold) a part of that which is revealed to you and feel grieved because they say, "Why has some treasure not been sent to him or an angel sent down with him?" Say, "I have come only to warn you." God is the Guardian of all things.
They (unbelievers) say, “Why has his Lord not given him some miracles to (support his claim of being His Messenger)?” Say “(The knowledge) of the unseen certainly belongs to God. Wait and I too shall be waiting with you
But they said, ‘[They are] muddled dreams!’ ‘Indeed, he has fabricated it!’ ‘Indeed, he is a poet!’ ‘Let him bring us a sign, like those sent to the former generations.’

What are the shares in an inheritance?

As is much discussed in some detail on external websites, the Quranic inheritance laws can in many situations result in the total shares being greater than 100 percent. This was so problematic that the 'awl system had to be created after Muhammad's death to work around the issue.

Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. But if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two thirds of one's estate. And if there is only one, for her is half. And for one's parents, to each one of them is a sixth of his estate if he left children. But if he had no children and the parents [alone] inherit from him, then for his mother is one third. And if he had brothers [or sisters], for his mother is a sixth, after any bequest he [may have] made or debt. Your parents or your children - you know not which of them are nearest to you in benefit. [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah, and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing.
They request from you a [legal] ruling. Say, "Allah gives you a ruling concerning one having neither descendants nor ascendants [as heirs]." If a man dies, leaving no child but [only] a sister, she will have half of what he left. And he inherits from her if she [dies and] has no child. But if there are two sisters [or more], they will have two-thirds of what he left. If there are both brothers and sisters, the male will have the share of two females. Allah makes clear to you [His law], lest you go astray. And Allah is Knowing of all things.

As well as the above mentioned issue (and the many scenarios for which the Quran provides no answer at all), there are various contradictions concerning the shares of brothers and sisters. Inheritance shares are stipulated for siblings only when the deceased has no surviving parents or children, but contradictory instructions occur in the two verses where this situation is addressed, Quran 4:11-12 and Quran 4:176 (incidentally, the latter verse is oddly appended to the very end of surah al-Nisa). Both these verses set rules for the estate of someone who has "neither ascendants nor descendants" (kalālatan, l-kalālati). In a book dedicated to the exegetical history of this word, Pavel Pavlovitch has established that its original meaning was lost by the last quarter of the first century, with early figures admitting their inability to understand the word, as further evidenced by various narrations and interpretations generated during and after that period. Generally, jurists inferred it to mean a person who dies without a child, nor, it was ultimately decided, surviving parents. A later proposal in the mid 2nd century was that the word instead meant the non-parent or child relatives of the deceased, and that it is the direct object of the preceding verb in verse 12.[17] Either way, the inheritance shares for siblings of a childless deceased person in verse 176 are incompatible with the shares that siblings can receive in verse 12.

- According to verse 12, a brother or sister would each receive a sixth share, but verse 176 says that a brother will have double the share of a sister.
- According to verse 12, multiple siblings will split a third share between them (a sixth each or less), but verse 176 says two sisters will split a two-thirds share.
- According to verse 12, if there is only a sister she will receive a sixth share, but verse 176 says she will receive a half share.
- According to verse 12, if there is only a brother, he will receive a sixth share, but verse 176 says that a brother inherits the entire estate if his sister dies and has no child.

To solve the contradictions, Imam Malik in Al-Muwatta 27:7 is narrated as saying that the generally agreed way of doing things in his experience was to interpret verse 12 as relating to half-siblings by the mother of the deceased, whereas verse 176 was interpreted as relating to siblings by the same father as the deceased. There is no support for these interpretations whatsoever in the verses, which simply refer to brothers and sisters. Al-Tabari in his commentary for verse 12 includes a narration that Sa'd bin Waqas used to add the words "from the mother's side" in his recitation of that verse. It is not obvious why such additional words would not be included in the accepted text or readings of the Quran if they were authentic. Critics further point out that it would be very odd for the situation of half-siblings to be addressed early in Surah al-Nisa and that of full-siblings only in a verse appended to the very end of the surah.

See Also


  • A version of this page is also available in the following languages: Czech. For additional languages, see the sidebar on the left.

External links


  1. Witztum, Joseph. 2011. The Syriac Milieu of the Qur’ ̄an: The Recasting of Biblical Narratives Ph.D. thesis, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA. pp. 69-79
  2. 2.0 2.1 fa - Lane's Lexicon pp. 2321-2323
  3. Joseph Witztum. “Thrice upon a Time: Abraham’s Guests and the Study of Intra-Quranic Parallels”. In Holger Zellentin (ed.), The Quran’s Reformation of Judaism and Christianity: Return to the Origins. London: Routledge, 2019, pp. 277–302.
  4. Witztum, J. (2021) Pharaoh and His Council: Great Minds Think Alike Journal of the American Oriental Society, 139(4), 945–952.
  5. Another example of transferred dialogue relates to the one of the previous contradiction examples. In the quotes in the earlier section we see that Moses mentions to Allah that he killed a man in surahs 26:10-17 and 28:33-35. However, another version in Quran 20:24-47 lacks this element in the words of Moses and instead it is Allah who mentions in verse 40 "And you killed someone, but We saved you from retaliation and tried you with a [severe] trial."
  6. Pamela Barmash. 2017. Through the Kaleidoscope of Literary Imagery in Exodus 15: Poetics and Historiography in Service to Religious Exuberance. Hebrew Studies Vol. 58 (2017) pp. 145-172
    PDF downloadable at [1]
  7. Tommaso Tesei, The Qurʾān(s) in Context(s) Journal Asiatique 309.2 (2021): 185-202 (open access; see pp. 198-200)
  8. sa'iqatan - Lane's Lexicon p. 1690
  9. mus'tamirrin - Lane's Lexicon p. 2702
  10. Stephen J. Vicchio, "Biblical figures in the Islamic faith", USA: Wipf and Stock, 2008, pp. 13-15
  11. Tommaso Tesei, The Qurʾān(s) in Context(s) Journal Asiatique 309.2 (2021): 185-202 (open access; see pp. 192-196)
  12. E.g. see Tafsir Al-Jalalayn on verse 2:75. Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli (d. 864 ah / 1459 ce) and his pupil Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911 ah / 1505 ce).
  13. Gabriel Said Reynolds (2018) The Qurʾān and Bible: Text and Commentary p. 198
  14. Tafsir Al-Jalalayn on verse 3:183. Al-Jalalayn / Al-Mahalli and as-Suyuti. Published 1505CE.
  15. This gradual change of an Israelite religion to a universal one is commonly accepted among historians, see: Britannica Yahweh Entry | Britannica To see an overview of the scholarly discussion of the history of Yahweh and the consensus, see e.g. Heath D. Dewrell's review of: Yahweh before Israel: Glimpses of History in a Divine Name. By Daniel E. Fleming. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. Pp. xviii + 320 + 15 figures. And Lewis, Theodore J., 'The Origin of Yahweh', The Origin and Character of God: Ancient Israelite Religion through the Lens of Divinity (New York, 2020; online edn, Oxford Academic, 20 Aug. 2020),, accessed 14 June 2024.
  16. Gabriel Said Reynolds (2018) The Qurʾān and Bible: Text and Commentary p. 92
  17. See Chapter 6 Summary and Conclusion in Pavel Pavlovitch, 2016, "The Formation of the Islamic Understanding of Kalāla in the Second Century AH (718–816 CE)", Leiden: Brill