Why (for Muslims) is there no historical criticism of the Qur’an as there is of the Bible?

The English Muslim writer Gai Eaton was once asked why there is no historical criticism of the Qur’an as there is of the Bible. His answer from the Islamic perspective is illuminating:

There is a misunderstanding: the Bible is made up of many different parts, compiled over many centuries and it is possible to cast doubt upon one part without impugning the rest; whereas the Qur’an is a single revelation, received by just one man, either you accept it for what it claims to be, in which case you are a Muslim or you reject this claim, and so place yourself outside the fold of Islam.

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Categories: Bible, Biblical scholarship, Islam, Quran, Scholarship

13 replies

  1. There IS historical criticism of the Quran. For example, John Wansborough. But his book is super hard even for the academics.
    Regardless, the conclusions of historical-critical scholars on the Quran are mild compared to the Bible.

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  2. how any one can know authors of the bible have same thing in their minds?

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  3. The problem for the quran is that no bible scholars take its claims about jesus or any biblical prophet as historical. It is simply not a historical document, but rather a compilation of fables and apocrypha from other faiths and traditions.

    The quran doesn’t even make a convincing case that mohammed was even a representative of an all-powerful being – what exactly did mohammed do in the quran that makes him any different from any other false prophet in history? Where are allah’s miracles shown through mohammed? You might say that the quran is a miracle because blah, blah, blah, but preserving a book is far from miraculous.

    Consider this, with digital technology, human beings can preserve every single jot and squiggle of any book ever written without a solitary transmission error – this means that humans can outdo allah when it comes to the only miracle muslims put forward to prove mohammed’s claims.

    No one should be convinced by this.

    A bigger problem is the hadith – even muslims see the problems with the credibility of these books. The quran has little context without the hadith, and histories, so if these are historically suspect, then the whole faith comes crumbling down.

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    • Kev,
      That the Qur’an shares some similarities with certain narratives from other faiths and traditions corroborates it as coming from the same divine revelatory source. This does not detract from its value but actually validates its authenticity. The Qur’an agrees with some of the previous narratives, and disagrees with other parts of the narrative setting the record straight, this confirms that the Qur’an is not simply blind copying from other faith traditions. While the Bible portrays Jesus as a mythical Greco-Roman man God, it is clear that the Qur’an more accurately portrays Jesus in much the same way as NT historical critical scholars have described the real historical Jesus, and this gives a strong indication of the truthful nature of the Qur’anic message.

      The miracle of the Qur’an is not only in its preservation, it is in that which you gloss over as “blah, blah, blah” the content of its message, structure, literary form and beauty with, each and every aspect of it being unique and having no match compared to any other book or scripture.

      The fact that Prophet Muhammad received a revelation, compiled it, validated and approved it in his own lifetime makes him different than any other prophet in the world. “Among all the religious books that exist today, the Quran is the only one that has the privilege of being compiled and approved by the Prophet who received it.” http://www.islamicity.org/2112/quran-a-divine-guidance-or-a-historical-document/

      That humans can preserve a book now with the aid of digital technology does not equate to the miracle that the Qur’an was preserved WITHOUT the aid of such modern technology. If as you suggest, it is so easy to preserve an ancient book, then why didn’t Christians preserve the Bible?

      In regard to Hadith, even if some hadith are suspect, the general overall narrative that the authentic hadiths provide is not suspect.

      Islam sits upon firm and solid ground, while Christianity is a house of cards, which collapsed a long time ago with the advent of NT Historical criticism.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Ibn Issam

      The Qur’an agrees with some of the previous narratives, and disagrees with other parts of the narrative setting the record straight, this confirms that the Qur’an is not simply blind copying from other faith traditions.

      The quran offers scant indication that it has intimate familiarity with anything in the Old or New testaments. There are no references to specific books of the OT or NT, there is no reference to most of the OT prophets, there is no indication that whoever made up the quran knew anything about any of the books of the NT, any of Paul’s letters or Paul, any of Jesus’ apostles, there’s no indication that the quran understands the specifics of any christian doctrines.

      So, no the quran references nearly zero actual books or doctrines of the OT and NT, and only mentions them in vague passing.

      “The miracle of the Qur’an is not only in its preservation, it is in that which you gloss over as “blah, blah, blah” the content of its message, structure, literary form and beauty with, each and every aspect of it being unique and having no match compared to any other book or scripture.”

      The preservation of the quran is not a miracle at all – there are copying errors in the quran. But even if there were no such errors, that still would not be miraculous. And as or the other nonsense – can you show me any objective scholars who agree that the quran is miraculous in the ways you claim?

      Humans have written literature that exceeds the quran in every way.

      And you are still left with the problem of there being nothing that mohammed did that looks like he is a prophet of god. No miracles, no eye-witnesses to his revelations, blatantly absurd claims about the nature of the universe and so on and so on.

      The fact that humans have achieved the capibility to exceed the supposed miracle of quranic preservation only prove that it is not divine – allah is supposed to be god and therefore, capable of doing greater things than anything humans could ever do.

      SO why is his “miracle” of the quran only miraculous in the 7th century? That is so absurd I’m shocked that an intelligent person like yourself would even utter it. Such a miracle should be impressive for all time.

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    • “SO why is his “miracle” of the quran only miraculous in the 7th century?”

      Well one example Kev is it that 1000’s of children graduate every year who memorize the whole Quran by Heart not to mention the many more 10000’s around the globe who have memorized it… if every copy of the quran on earth were to be destroyed it will only take one 7 year old kid to recite the whole Quran from memory to bring it back to existence… how people you know who have memorized the Bible or even the NT?…lol… zero… for a 6-7 year old kid to memorize the whole Quran is miracle wouldnt you say Kev!.. 🙂

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    • Omar

      Why is that a miracle or proof of the Qur’an? Is this not rather a testament to the human minds ability to retain information if trained well enough but however there is a difference between memorising a text and understanding its content.

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    • lol Why cannot one human mind have the ability to retain information if trained well enough to memorize the bible or even the NT or even the 4 gospels!?.. lol.. its the miraculous nature of the Quran that allows this phenomenal to be witnessed and of course preserved in its entirety… ..

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    • why does one need to memorise the NT? in what way does this prove its content as true or false? I would argue that it makes no difference, if someone were to demonstrate they had memorised the bhagavad gita would you find this compelling evidence?

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    • Omar

      What is miraculous about memorizing something?

      Attorneys all over the world memorize extensive laws, doctors memorize the finest details of the human body, and children in China and Japan memorize tens of thousands of characters for their alphabet. Are these miracles too?

      Plus, most muslims don’t speak arabic and only memorize the sounds of the quran verses without knowing its content. That’s not miraculous.

      A miracle would be if someone read the quran and could instantly speak arabic and comprehend – although that also could be merely a function of human abilities. People have awoken from comas and found themselves able to speak languages previously unknown to them.

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    • Arabic Quran UnImmitable

      Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot, who was a notable British Orientalist and translator, states:

      “From a literary point of view the Koran is regarded as a specimen of the purest Arabic, and written in half poetry and half prose. It has been said that in some cases grammarians have adapted their rules to agree with certain phrases and expressions used in it, and that though several attempts have been made to produce a work equal to it, as far as elegant writing is concerned, none have as yet succeeded.”

      Source: F.F. Arbuthnot, A MANUAL OF ARABIAN HISTORY AND LITERATURE, 1890, http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/19914/pg19914-images.html

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