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Muhammad the prophet part one

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God?

Submitted by Richard the Lion heart (United States), Jan 25, 2006 at 02:08

The Holy Bible gives us a test to determine a true prophet from a false one:

"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." Deuteronomy 18:20-22

In light of what God says in the preceding passage, we will examine several predictions made by Muhammad in the Quran and Islamic traditions to see if whether he passes God's test.

On the Roman Conquest of Persia

S. 30:2-4:

"The Roman Empire has been defeated - in a land close by: But they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious - within a few years."

As the prophecy stated the Byzantines did become victorious over the Persians who had at first defeated them. Yet there are fundamental problems with this alleged prophecy:

According to Yusuf Ali the Arabic word for "a few years," Bidh'un, signifies a period of three to nine years; yet according to the historical records the victory did not come until nearly fourteen years later. The Persians defeated the Byzantines and captured Jerusalem at about A.D. 614 or 615. The Byzantine counter-offensive did not begin until A.D. 622 and the victory was not complete until A.D. 628, making it a period between thirteen to fourteen years, not "a few years" alluded to in the Quran.
Renowned historian and Muslim commentator, al-Tabari, places the Roman victory in 628 A.D. (6 A.H.), right after the signing of Hudaiybiya:

According to Ibn Humayd- Salamah- Muhammad b. Ishaq- Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri- 'Ubaydallah b. 'Abdullah b. 'Utbah b. Mas'ud- 'Abdullah b. 'Abbas- Abu Sufyan b. Harb, who said: We were merchant folk. The warfare between us and the Messenger of God had prevented us from journeying, so that our wealth became depleted. After the truce between us and the Messenger of God, we feared that we might not encounter security. I set out for Syria with a group of merchants of Quraysh. Our specific destination was Gaza, and we arrived at the time of Heraclius' VICTORY over the Persians who were in his land - he expelled them and regained from them his Great Cross, which they had carried off. Having accomplished this against them and having received word that his cross had been rescued from them (he was staying at Hims), he set out from there on foot in thanksgiving to God for restoring it to him, to pray in Jerusalem. Carpets were spread out for him, and fragrant herbs were strewn on them. When he reached Jerusalem and performed his worship - with him were his military commanders and the nobles of the Romans - he arose troubled one morning, turning his gaze to the sky ... (The History of Al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press, Albany 1997], Volume VIII, pp. 100-101; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The translator's footnote reads:

436. "In 627 Heraclius invaded the Persian empire, and in December of that year won an important victory near ancient Ninevah, but had to retreat shortly afterwards. In February 628, however, the Persian emperor was assassinated, and the son who succeeded him desired peace. By about March 628 Heraclius could regard himself as victorious, but the negotiations for the evacuation of the Byzantine empire by the Persians were not completed until June 629. In September 629 Heraclius entered Constantinople AS VICTOR, and in March 630 restored the Holy Rood to Jerusalem." (Watt, Muhammad at Medina, 113-114). See also Ostrgorsky, History of the Byzantine State, 103-4. (Ibid., capital emphasis ours)

Watt places Rome's complete victory at 630 A.D., fifteen to sixteen years after the so-called prophecy was given!

The original Quranic text had no vowel marks. Thus, the Arabic word Sayaghlibuna, "they shall defeat," could easily have been rendered, with the change of two vowels, Sayughlabuna, "they (i.e. Romans) shall be defeated." Since vowel points were not added until some time after this event, it could have been quite possible for a scribe to deliberately tamper with the text, forcing it to become a prophetic statement.
This fact is solidified by Muslim commentator al-Baidawi. C.G. Pfander mentions Baidawi's comments on the variant readings surrounding this passage:

"But Al Baizawi shatters the whole argument of the Muslims by informing us of certain varied readings in these verses of Suratu'r Rum. He tells us that some read (Arabic text appears here) instead of the usual (Arabic text appears here) and (Arabic text appears here) instead of (Arabic text appears here). The rendering will then be: 'The Byzantines have conquered in the nearest part of the land, and they shall be defeated in a small number of years'. If this be the correct reading, the whole story about Abu Bakr's bet with Ubai must be a fable, since Ubai was dead long before the Muslims began to defeat the Byzantines, and even long before the victories which Heraclius won over the Persians. This shows how unreliable such Traditions are. The explanation which Al Baizawi gives is, that the Byzantines became conquerors of 'the well-watered land of Syria' (Arabic text appears here) and that the passage predicted that the Muslims would soon overcome them. If this is the meaning, the Tradition which records the 'descent' of the verses about six years before the Hijrah must be wrong, and the passage must belong to A.H. 6 at earliest. It is clear that, as the vowel points were not used when the Qur-an was first written down in Cufic letters, no one can be certain which of the two readings is right. We have seen that there is so much uncertainty about (1) the date at which the verses were 'sent down', (2) the correct reading, and (3) the meaning, that it is quite impossible to show that the passage contains a prophecy which was fulfilled. Hence, it cannot be considered to be a proof of Muhammad's prophetic office." (C. G. Pfander, Mizan-ul-Haqq - The Balance of Truth, revised and enlarged by W. St. Clair Tisdall [Light of Life P.O. Box 18, A-9503, Villach Austria], 279-280) [emphasis ours]

This being the case, a Muslim cannot confidently tell us what the true reading of the text is and hence cannot insure us that this verse originally predicted the Byzantine victory over the Persians. Yet either rendering leaves us with a false prophecy within the Quran.

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