69 million page views

The Roots of Islam and who is the author of the Qur'an

Reader comment on item: Friendless in the Middle East
in response to reader comment: The Roots of Islam

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Jan 7, 2012 at 10:42

BB wrote

>Who wrote its holy book?

The simple answer here is we do not know. The Qur'an is text with no context (see Peters) we really do not very much about how it came about but we know that texts and literature do not drop from the sky and that such texts are the products of human beings at a point in time and a special cultural and linguistic milieu and in the case of the Qur'an the text is really a product of the cultures and languages of the Middle East (not the Hijaz) in the late antique period and it has nothing to do with the Hijaz

If you examine the Quranic claim in Q12:2 where it says قُرْاءنًا عَرَبِيًّا which is the editing of the Muslim masorites in distant Mesopotamia in the 9th century so we can read it as "Arabic Qur'an" but if we get rid of the editing then we are left with مر ـا عرـا which is the basic rasm that no one can read but what is most amazing about it is that this is not Arabic and it must be Arabized Syriac (the dead give away is the alif at the end of both Qur'an and Arabi) as it should have been قراءن عربي and one can very much read it as قريان غربي or lectionary of the west (read this as the sunset) which is clear Syriac now and there is no doubt that Syriac may be the key to unlock the Qur'an because for a book that claims to be a clear book there is no way that you can understand the Qur'an with out reading the great commentaries and even if you read them you realize that the ulama did not get it most of the time and i will give you two examples here:

1. The Qur'an describes Muhammad as ummi which was read by the ulama as uneducated but this is clearly from Hebrew 'am ha arets or common folk aka gentiles and it was because by the 3rd century the connection to Hebrew was lost

2. The word Furqan in Sura 25 was a puzzling word to the ulama and they tell us that is is from the root FRQ or separating but this is not Arabic and it is clearly from Syriac Purqana or salvation a clear Christian concept

And there are many examples when it is clear that the ulama had no idea what to make out of what the Qur'an really says (eg: Hur 3ayn)

So what is really the Qur'an? If we mean by the Qur'an that it is the 1923-1924 Cairo Qur'an as I have siad before then we have a problem.

The basic layer of the Qur'an or al-rasm that no one can read and this is why the Muslim ulama had to go through the islamic masora which is an activity of the 3rd century and the aim was to examine the garmmar of the Qur'an and to fix the linguistic problems of the text which there are many of them because a canonized text must be stablized first and this is why Wansbrough believes correctely that the Qur'an could not have been canonized before the 3rd century of islam

And even the names of the individual chapters were not stable until about the 10th century CE as we can find al-Tabari calling Q105 surat ala tara but now it is called surat al-feel which means that even the names of the suras were in flux for a long period time

So realizing all of this we really do not know who is really the author or what the text really says

I can provide you with some of the great research and ideas about the "author" of the Qur'an

1. Christoph Luexenberg believes that the Qur'an is really an Arabized Syriac text and he has been able to unlock some of the suras and verses in the Qur'an that did not make any sense as his work on surat al-kawthar where if you regard the text as Syriac then the meaning of such opaque sura becomes clear and if you read Q97 or surat al-qadr it does not make any sense as the word qadr is really an unclear word and if you read the word as a Syriac word and it would be qadra or destiny or laylat al-qadr read it as night of destinty which in Syriac Christianity is really the Nativity et voila we have Christmas in the Qur'an

He is also the one that told us about the fact that the Quranic Hur 3ayn which was read as the virgins of Allah's heaven that it is no more than grapes

I do believe that what Luxenberg is saying may be the clue to who really wrote the Qur'an

2. Angelika Neuwirth examined the following question: why is the Qur'an used only to a limited extent in the liturgy proper in marked contrast to the Bible among the Jews and Christians. Why should it be this way and was it always so? Angelika Neuworth who highlighted the problem found in the Meccan material of the Koran indications that it took shape in liturgical contexts which subsequently disappeared" (see Cook)

And this very well could be the explanation for Q12:2 or that the Qur'an is no more than a lectionary but the source of the material is really the Bible and this is why the Qur'an always assumes that the reader of the Qur'an must be familiar with th Bible (Quranic midrash may be?)

3. Now if you read the Qur'an you realize that the author retells the stories of the Jews and Christians in no special order and this is indeed why Wansbrough tells us that "taken together the quantity of reference the mechanically repetitious emplyoment of rhetorical convention and the stridently polemical style all suggests a strongly sectarian atmosphere in which a corpus of familiar scripture was been pressed in the service of as yet unfamiliar doctrine"

Et voila this is indeed what happened and this indeed explains why it took the tradition a long time to identify the subject of the sacrifice and to define what is really al-masjid al-aqsa wa al-masjid al-haram

4. Back to Wansbrough who examines an interesting phenomenon in the Qur'an and that is Allah seems to be in the habit of repeating himself ad nauseum in different literary forms as in the case of the Sh3ayb tradition and the two gardens traditions and i will give you a simple example of this phenomenon but I will have to use the Arabic alphabet then i will explain it to you now if you turn to Q16:66 it say

وان لكم في الانعام لعبرة نسقيكم مما في بطونه

Now if you turn to Q23:22 you will find

وان لكم في الانعام لعبرة نسقيكم مما في بطونها

Compare the words and they are the same EXCEPT that the last word which is the last word on the left is different and in the first verse it is Butunih (sic) which is a grammatical error because the subject is plural and mu'anath or feminine and it is indeed you will find it in the second verse as Butunihaa which is the correct grammar for such word

Well this example means

1. That Allah is the habit of repeating himself

2. And that the author makes mistakes in Arabic grammar then he fixes such mistakes in later ayas

3. Or that the Qur'an has multiple authors one is familiar with proper Arabic grammar and one is not familiar with Arabic grammar and I do believe that this is the explanation for such phenomenon

This phenomenon is called by Wansbrough "variant traditions" and in the words of Cook "we might have here the results of the development of independent possibly regional traditions incorporated moreor less intact into the canonical copilation" which in plain English means that the Qur'an must have multiple authors

5. You might recall that i told you that the Quranic material might pre-dates Muhammad and here is an example so follow me (see Puin)

a. The Qur'an tells us about an allusion called ahl al-ayka also ahl layka or the people of al-ayaka or layka but no one in the tradition seemed to be able to identify who are really these people but the word ayka layka was read as may be the name of a place or tanglewood and only Allah knows!

b. Now the word layka must be from Leuke Kome which is Greek for the white city and indeed you will find the name of Leuke Kome in the Periplus and Greek literature and it was a port in the Nabataean Kingdom

c. However the name Leuke Kome disappears from the literary sources by the 3rd centuy CE

d. Later on the sources tell us about a place called Hawra (which is the Syriac word for white) and the greek sources tell us about Alaura which is the Greek reading of the Syriac Hawra

e. The Syriac word hawra is Arabized as al-Hawra

f. Now we know what was to become of Leuke Kome and it is now al-Hawra

So what is preserved in the Qur'an is a name that indeed disappeared from the sources for several centuries but it is stll preserved in its original name albeit Arabized as Layka or al-Ayka

And yes the Arabs could have great memories but the name disappeared and became Arabized as al-Hawra so the only explanation here is that there were indeed texts be it oral or written that preserved such word and these texts pre-date Muhammad

This means that indeed some of the Quranic material predated Muhammad by several centuries which really means that one can very much detach Muhammad from the Qur'an

Next post will be about the Qur'an as a text

I hope i helped


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to The Roots of Islam and who is the author of the Qur'an by dhimmi no more

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2023 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)