A popular argument used by Christian polemicists is to claim that the author of the Qur’an (whom they take to be Muhammad), borrowed stories from early Christian apocryphal works. The assumption appears to be that because the Qur’an’s truths appear in earlier literature (including the Bible) whose sources are in most cases lost, then this kind of apocryphal writing cannot contain material that was handed down from some earlier genuinely prophetic document.
It is characteristic of Christian polemic to deploy criticisms of Islam that would quickly rebound on the Bible if only they they were honest enough to use their criteria consistently. But they never do.
Here is an example of what I mean.
Yet in the same way these dreamers also defile the flesh, reject authority, and slander the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’
Did Michael actually say “The Lord rebuke you!”? God knows best. But The Assumption of Moses is usually dated to the 1st century BC. Moses probably lived and died mid-13th century BC. The historical gap is enormous. Conservative Christians do not usually hesitate to accept this story as historical simply because it is in the Bible. Yet historians will tell you it is apocryphal.
Another example from the same letter:
It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘See, the Lord is coming with tens of thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’
Here we apparently have the actual words of Enoch the grandfather of Noah just seven generations from Adam! The quote originates in The Book of Enoch an ancient Jewish religious work. Modern scholars estimate the older sections (mainly Book of the Watchers where the quote is located) to date from about 300 BC, and the latest part (Book of Parables) probably to the first century BC.
When did Enoch live? This depends on when we date Adam. If you accept modern science, then this suggests that we (Homo sapiens) have lived from about 250,000 years ago to the present. The Book of Enoch was compiled many centuries after Enoch, to put it mildly.
I am not saying that just because a text is classified as ‘apocryphal’ by historians then it is unhistorical. A case can be made that the ‘apocryphal’ stories in the Quran are based on history. The same kinds of literature are used by New Testament authors yet are accepted as historical without any hesitation by Christian apologists. To misquote James White:
‘I have yet to meet a consistent Christian.’